by Dave Fidlin, for The Center Square
(The Center Square) – The number of working Vermont adults age 25 to 54 has declined since the pandemic’s onset, according to a recently released report.
Analysts with Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit public policy organization, stacked up states’ working-age employment rates from the first quarter of 2020 and compared them to the first quarter of 2023.In the report – authored by Pew researchers Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro, John Hamman, and Page Forrest – 24 states were found to have lagging employment rates in what has been described as the “prime working age” cohort of the labor market.
With a 2.8% decrease in the three-year comparison, Vermont was among the half of the country that has been in decline.
According to the report, 84.2% of Vermont’s prime working-age adults participated in the workforce in the first quarter of 2020. Three years later, the rate declined to 81.4%.Explaining the basis for the report and its findings, Biernacka-Lievestro, Hamman and Forrest said a diminished labor market can have several negative consequences.“
Changes in employment rates can affect both sides of a state’s budget ledger,” the report says. “More people without jobs typically translates into higher demand for government services and reduced tax revenues.”
Vermont currently outperforms the national unemployment rate in all age groups, based on statistics from state officials.
According to data from the Vermont Department of Labor, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May – the most recent reporting period available – was 2.1%. Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in that same period was 3.7%.In New England, Vermont notched one of the lowest unemployment rates in the summer. Only one state within the northeast – New Hampshire – outpaced Vermont, with a 1.9% unemployment rate in May.
According to the Vermont DOL’s dashboard, total unemployment insurance claims have been trending down. In the first week of July, 321 claims were filed statewide, compared to 288 claims the year prior.
Nearly half of the claims filed in the week ended July 8 were in the services industry. Construction and trades accounted for 4% and 3% of the claims filed.
In the Pew study, West Virginia notched the most significant 3-year decline – 5.4%. Utah had the highest gain from 2020 to 2023, increasing its 25- to 54-year-old workforce by 3.8%.