Press Release: Vermont Labor Force Participation Is Decreasing


According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not only is Vermont’s labor force shrinking on the whole, but fewer of those remaining are participating in the labor market at all.

The Ethan Allen Institute recently participated in Liberty Foundation project studying state by state labor force participation going back fifteen years.

Between 1999 and 2014 Vermont’s total labor force participation rate has dropped from 72.10% to 68.2%. Overall, the participation percentage held steady, hovering just above 70% between 2000 and 2011 before steep drop offs in 2012 and 2013. (See Chart 1)

Chart 1. Vermont Labor Force Participation Rate, (BLS, Liberty Foundation)

Labor Force Participation

View Full Demographic Breakdowns: Vermont Labor Participation Stats

While Vermont’s total civilian labor force generally grew between 1999 and 2009, it has also dropped steeply since 2011 from a peak of over 360,000 to about 350,000 today. (See Chart 2)

Chart 2. Vermont Civilian Labor Force (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 8.36.49 PM

This dynamic sets us apart from our neighbors. The labor force participation rates for Maine have been increasing since 2010, have been declining slightly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and have remained largely flat in New York. However, none of these states has seen a decline in its total labor force the way Vermont has. (MA, NH, ME, NY).

Vermont is the only state in the area with both a shrinking labor force pie and a shrinking slice of participants in that pie. The “Great Recession” officially ended in June of 2009. These numbers are occurring in what is supposed to be an economic recovery. It certainly doesn’t look or feel like it.


Contact: Rob Roper
President, Ethan Allen Institute

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Licata October 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Oh – come on David Breshitt – not “all ignorant creeps retire to [Idaho].” Ernest Hemingway may have been a “creep” but he was no “ignorant creep,” as he was one of those who actually did “retire and move to Idaho.” Facts are stubborn things – David Breshitt. And talk about “bitch[ing] like fools? Now there’s the pot calling the kettle black.


Stu Lindberg October 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

There is very real shortage of qualified workers and unqualified workers in the state of Vermont. I see it in the trucking industry ever single day. It is the same in the restaurant industry.


Jim Bulmer October 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Leave it to Dave to react like all liberal Dems – shoot the messenger and the truth will evaporare. When will these guys wake up and face FACTS? As for Idaho, I doubt that even Dave could find a decent paying job.


Hunter Melville October 11, 2014 at 1:51 pm

What happened to David’s comment? I don’t see it-


Rob October 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

It was inappropriate.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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