Unemployment Numbers Show Some Job Creation

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(Host) There are signs in last week’s unemployment report that Vermont’s economic recovery may be stalling.

But the numbers also hold good news. The jobless rate is still relatively low compared to New England and the nation.

And, as VPR’s John Dillon reports, there are some sectors of the Vermont economy that are creating jobs.

(Dillon) If three months of statistics makes a trend, then the trend line is going the wrong way in Vermont. The statewide unemployment rate inched up in July to 5.7 percent, up slightly from June.

Paul Cillo is executive director of the Public Assets Institute, a Montpelier based think tank. He says that until April, the unemployment rate had been dropping.

(Cillo) "This is the first time we’ve seen it start to inch back up again. So it’s one of these things where we’ll have to watch it and see, but that’s the worry."

(Dillon) But there are also some positive signs in the employment and jobs numbers.

The jobless rate in Vermont is still slightly better than it was a year ago, and it’s 3.4 points lower than the national unemployment rate.

Art Woolf teaches economics at the University of Vermont and is a principal with Northern Economic Consulting. He says recent statistics on job growth show that manufacturing and hospitality companies are hiring workers. He says these figures also match the growth he sees in state tax revenues.

(Woolf) "My conclusion is, in this case in the last few months I think the employment numbers are more believable than the unemployment numbers and that the state economy is showing slight, very slight improvement, which is better than very slight negative."

(Dillon) The state wants to link job seekers with companies looking to hire workers. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says her department offers a number of services though its regional offices.

(Noonan) "And I think a lot of Vermonters don’t know that’s available. It’s a free service. We’ve got really well trained, long tenured expert staff that can work with people coming in the door who need help looking for jobs. And with employers who need a ready workforce."

(Dillon) Vermont has the second lowest unemployment rate in New England, after New Hampshire.

But it’s not an even picture across the state. The Northeast Kingdom remains a pocket of relatively high unemployment at 8.2 percent. The Upper Connecticut Valley area of the state had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.7 percent.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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