3-31-14 – The Bad News About Vermont’s Unemployment

by Chris Campion

And a river in Egypt runs through it.

And a river in Egypt runs through it.

Vermont’s Dept. of Labor recently announced the February 2014 unemployment numbers.  If you’ve been watching these numbers and listening to Annie Noonan, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, you’d think that jobs are plentiful in Vermont, because the unemployment rate is dropping.  Here’s what she has to say about February’s numbers:

“It is good news that the statewide unemployment rate has reached pre-2007-recession levels, and Vermont’s job totals are nearly back to where they were before the recession.  Yet, we recognize that shifts in the economy and corporate changes have led to displacement of some Vermont workers.  The Department encourages Vermonters to visit one of our regional offices to tap into services and programs for job counseling and placement assistance.”

 

Well, maybe be less calm.

Well, maybe be less calm.

Actually, it’s not good news at all.  It’s awful news.  Yet the state does not seem to let a little thing like data get in the way of what passes for good economic news in our beleaguered state.

Here’s what the actual data says about jobs gained and lost, month over month.  From January to February 2014, the state gained 1,700 (total nonfarm) jobs.  But where are those jobs?  Let’s look at the high-level sector breakdown:

Total Private Sector Jobs:

January 2014:  251,300

February 2014:  251,300

Total Net Gain/Loss:  0

Total Government Sector Jobs:

January 2014:  56,100

February 2014:  57,800

Total Net Gain/Loss:  1,700

So the total gain in new jobs is all in the public sector.  We did not gain a net of one new job in the private sector, month-over-month.  Note that the Government sector has a higher total job count now in February 2014 (57,800) than it did in February 2013 (57,300).  500 more jobs.  Jobs that are entirely paid for by the taxes paid out of the private sector, the sector that gained net zero jobs.

Noonan’s office is claiming, in the statement, that jobs are now at the pre-recession levels.  In other words, their work is done here, and the Dept. of Labor can probably close up shop since the economy is just cranking now.

These public statements border on the duplicitous.  The Dept. of Labor statement will never, eversay “The state of Vermont did not gain one net private sector job last month”.  Instead, it will show the net gains, not say where they’re coming from, and toss in a platitude about “shifts in the economy” ot “corporate changes”, and then the department’s work is done for the month.

The sign should read "Keep Going To Texas".

The sign should read “Keep Going To Texas”.

I expect that most Vermonters, especially the fewer and fewer that are working in Vermont, spend a lot of time reviewing the data and public statements made by the Dept. of Labor.  I suspect, however, that any Vermonter who is walking around looking for a job in this state would read the Dept. of Labor statement and ask the obvious question:

What state are these people actually living in?

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