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Vermont’s persistent problem

MONTPELIER – Many Vermonters are not benefiting from the state’s economic growth. That’s the central message of State of Working Vermont 2018, released today by Public Assets Institute. The data are new. But the message was similar in the 2017 report—and the year before that, and the year before that.

State of Working Vermont, based on U.S. Census and economic data through 2017, showed that the Vermont economy grew last year—not as much as the rest of the country, but more than three of the other New England states. Even with its overall growth, however, Vermont was one of 10 states where income for the typical household fell in 2017.

“Vermont is a small state, and its economy largely follows the ups and downs of the national economy,” said Paul Cillo, president and executive director of Public Assets Institute. “But Vermont policymakers can ensure a fair distribution of the state’s economic gains. Tax policy, the state minimum wage, and spending policies can determine whether all Vermonters or only a privileged few will benefit from a growing economy.”

State of Working Vermont 2018 includes indicators designed to answer three questions:

  1. Did the overall Vermont economy grow, and who benefited?
  2. Were Vermonters able to make ends meet?
  3. How was the job market for Vermonters, and who was working?

“There is some good news in these indicators,” Cillo said. “Poverty was down somewhat in 2017, and it has trended downward since the recession. Jobs are increasing. But there’s some bad news too,” he continued. “For young Vermonters, Vermonters of color, and single parents, poverty remains high. And wages, after adjusting for inflation, have barely budged for many low- and moderate-wage workers.”

Public Assets produces the State of Working Vermont annually in conjunction with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. The report is designed to show how working Vermonters and their families were faring economically at the end of 2017—the latest year for which most data are available—and how conditions have changed, for better or worse, in recent years. Its analyses are based on data released by the U.S. Census, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other state and federal agencies in 2018. It is a companion report to A Framework for Progress: Investing in Vermont’s people, infrastructure, and good government.

State of Working Vermont 2018 is published in a readable chart-book format with brief explanatory text. The report can be viewed or downloaded at

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

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