Vt. jobless rate falls to seven-month low
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | December 22,2012
Vermont’s unemployment rate fell for the first time since April, dropping 0.3 points to 5.2 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Friday.
The state’s seasonally-adjusted rate remains lower than the national average of 7.7 percent and is the seventh-lowest unemployment rate in the nation.
The state also reported that total employment last month increased for the third consecutive month.
“We were very pleased to see the monthly unemployment number decrease this month, as well as the gains in total employment,” Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a statement.
Unemployment rates for the state’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 3 percent in Hartford to 6.1 percent in Newport and Springfield. (Local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.)
Rutland’s unemployment rate fell from 6.2 percent to 5.8 percent in November, Barre-Montpelier fell 0.1 points to 4.5 percent, Bennington saw its rate dip 0.1 points to 5.6 percent, and Burlington-South Burlington fell 0.1 points to 3.7 percent.
“In terms of the job growth that we’re seeing in the Vermont economy, (it’s) in private industries,” Mathew Barewicz, the department’s economic and labor market information chief, said Friday. “And that, I think, is a significant development and it’s reassuring to a lot of people indicating that potentially this economic recovery — this economic recovery we’ve been waiting for several years now from this great recession — is showing some traction.”
Barewicz said that private-sector jobs grew by 2,400 in November and are up 4,100 from a year ago.
The industry sectors with the largest increase in employment last month were: construction, 600 jobs; leisure and hospitality, 500 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, 800 jobs; and manufacturing, 400 jobs.
Over the last year, Barewicz said, some of the biggest job gains have been in private education, health services, and professional and business services.
On the minus side, the government sector (state, federal, and local including public education) shed 200 jobs last month. Over the last year, government lost 1,400 jobs.
The state’s official unemployment rate, known as U-3, stood at 5.2 percent in November. But, when a broader measure is used, unemployment for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 jumps to 11.1 percent.
That Bureau of Labor Statistics rate, known as U-6, includes so-called “discouraged” workers (no longer looking for work), those “marginally attached” (not looking, but willing to work), and part-time workers, those who want full-time work.
Nationally, the BLS U-6 rate for November was 14.4 percent.
November represented the first decline in Vermont’s unemployment rate since April when the rate stood at 4.6 percent. The state started the year with a jobless rate of 5.1 percent. It fell to 4.6 percent in April and May before inching back up to a high of 5.5 percent in October.
Starting Jan. 1, Vermont’s minimum wage increases 14 cents to $8.60 an hour. Vermont is one of 10 states that adjust the minimum wage to track inflation.