• Vt. unemployment rate posts another slight increase
    By Bruce Edwards
    STAFF WRITER | July 20,2013
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    Vermont’s unemployment rate increased for the second month in a row, inching up 0.3 percentage point in June to 4.4 percent, the Department of Labor reported Friday.

    The national unemployment rate for June was 7.6 percent. Vermont continues to have the fourth lowest jobless rate in the country.

    “The Vermont economy is showing a bit of changeability this month, which appear to be linked to specific employment issues,” Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a statement accompanying the monthly figures. “While the state’s revenues remain strong, we saw the layoff of IBM workers.”

    In the aftermath of last month’s layoff of 419 at IBM, Noonan said a job fair this week attracted more than 85 employers looking for qualified workers. She also said there is employment progress in the Northeast Kingdom with its EB-5 visa project, which encourages foreign investment.

    The Labor Department’s Mathew Barewicz said some laid-off IBM workers might have been included in June’s unemployment numbers. The monthly report is based on a survey of 1,400 households. The latest survey was conducted the week of June 12, the same week IBM notified employees about pending layoffs, said Barewicz, chief of economics and labor market information.

    He said technically IBM workers should not be in the June numbers because those workers were still employed at the time the survey was conducted.

    June represents the second consecutive monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.

    Barewicz said last year’s initial data also showed a similar increase during May and June. But when more data became available the increases “were not as great” as initially estimated, he said.

    “Last year we had that temporary rise, and it ended up declining for the better part of the remaining year,” he said.

    Barewicz said a similar scenario may be occurring this year with indicators “showing we’re better off than last year, so things are still improving.”

    For June, he said, employment was mostly flat with declines in construction, education and health care services. There were gains in manufacturing along with leisure and hospitality, Barewicz said.

    The Public Assets Institute was less optimistic, noting in its analysis that “the number of Vermonters who report being employed has been trending down since last December, and in June was lower than it was in March 2010.”

    The Montpelier-based organization also cited a new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annual report that found most counties in the state “have seen little or no job growth since the depths of the recession in 2009.”

    June unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 3.2 percent in Hartford to 6.6 percent in Newport. Local labor market unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

    Rutland’s rate rose from 5.4 percent in May to 5.9 percent in June; Barre-Montpelier experienced a 0.5 percentage point increase to 4.6 percent; Bennington’s rate shot up 0.8 percentage point to 5.8 percent; Springfield inched up 0.3 to 6.1 percent; and Burlington-South Burlington saw its rate increase 0.7 percentage point to 4.2 percent.

    bruce.edwards @rutlandherald.com
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