Public Assets Institute > Press > Press Releases > New report on working Vermont: Reverse priorities to put people first

New report on working Vermont: Reverse priorities to put people first

MONTPELIER—Three years after the start of the Great Recession, the gap between Vermont’s wealthiest and everyone else had widened, and thousands of Vermonters had sunk into poverty, according to a new report released by Public Assets Institute today. The governor’s goal of rebuilding the middle class is an important start, but Montpelier must begin to create a state that works for everybody, the report says.

The State of Working Vermont 2011 analyzes the most recent data, from 2010.  It shows that Vermont’s 6.2 percent unemployment rate for 2010 was the sixth lowest in the country and the second lowest in New England. The wage gap between male and female workers is the sixth smallest in the nation—but only because women’s wages have fallen less than men’s.

“Vermonters didn’t get hit quite as hard by the recession as people in other states, and that’s good. But we need to be aiming higher,” said Public Assets President Paul Cillo. “A lot of Vermonters have lost ground in the last 10 years. Their real incomes aren’t much better than they were in 1990. Poverty is up and the pace of job creation is down.” The report argues that these losses are the results of public policies that put money considerations ahead of people’s needs—a priority that needs to be reversed.

The report also puts recent trends in historical context, documenting the widening of Vermont’s income gap since the early 1980s, anemic job growth even before the recession hit, and 20 years of income stagnation for the typical Vermont household.

“Governor Shumlin had it right when he described the fears of Vermont’s declining middle class, but the problems go beyond just the middle class,” Cillo said. “We need to make a commitment to build a Vermont that works for everybody.”

The report suggests steps the administration and the Legislature should take to reverse the trends of the last 30 years. The recommendations include:

  • Policies explicitly aimed at closing the income gap, rebuilding the middle class, and a broader sharing of the state’s economic growth.
  • Development of indicators to measure the state’s progress toward these policy goals.
  • A results-based approach to public investment and restoration of the government’s capacity to measure the effectiveness of public programs and services.

Public Assets Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sound budget and tax policies to benefit all Vermonters. Additional information is available at


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