Vermonts unemployment rate continues downward trend
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF writer | April 20,2013
Vermont’s unemployment fell 0.3 of a percentage point in March to 4.1 percent, continuing an eight-month trend, the state Labor Department reported Friday.
March was the eighth consecutive month without an increase in the state jobless rate. The state remains tied for the third-lowest rate in the country.
The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent, down 0.1 of a percentage point from February.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said the latest drop in the unemployment rate “is further proof that the state’s economy continues to rebound from the worst recession in our memory.”
He added, “Vermont now has the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country and the strongest job market in the region, reflecting what I’m hearing from business owners as I travel the state.”
While the unemployment rate fluctuates over time, the governor said in a statement, “the consistent downward trend in recent months shows that employers are hiring and need skilled workers.”
As the ski season winds down, the construction and hospitality industries are gearing up for the summer season and are in a hiring mode.
The state is also seeing job growth in education, health care and social assistance as well as manufacturing, said Mathew Barewicz, the Labor Department’s chief of economic labor market information.
“Manufacturing has been steady, on the climb, not big gains but sustainable small gains over the last couple of months,” Barewicz said.
He said health care jobs range from nurses to lower-paying support staff.
In her own statement accompanying the unemployment report, Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan added a note of caution. She said the state is “concerned about possible job reductions in the defense-related industries in Vermont resulting from the federal sequestration …”
While the state jobless rate dipped again last month, it doesn’t reflect the 1,650 Vermonters who dropped out of the workforce in March and were not counted in the unemployment numbers.
When those workers are counted, as well as Vermonters who are working part time but want full-time work, Barewicz said the state’s real unemployment rate, known as U-6, averaged 11 percent last year. The commonly used unemployment rate, or U-3, averaged 5.1 percent in 2012.
The state calculates the U-6 rate on a quarterly basis.
March unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 2.9 percent in Warren-Waitsfield to 7.6 percent in Newport (local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted).
The Rutland unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent to 4.8 percent; Barre-Montpelier, fell 0.2 percent to 5 percent; Bennington, fell 0.2 percent to 5.5 percent; Springfield, fell 0.1 percent to 5.2; Middlebury, fell 0.2 percent to 4.9 percent; Burlington-South Burlington remained unchanged at 3.6 percent; Brattleboro also remained unchanged at 4.5 percent.