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Vermont Jobless Rate Unchanged, But Shrinking Labor Force Cause For Concern

Vermont’s monthly unemployment rate remained at a seasonally adjusted  3.7 percent in October, matching the revised September rate.

But Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the monthly numbers also reflect a "more significant decline" in the labor force. Vermont’s labor force is now smaller than at any time in the past 11 years.

The labor force also declined in August and September, although not as significantly as October’s loss of 2,050 workers. The total civilian labor force stood at 345,200.

In a statement Noonan said her department is looking at whether the unusual monthly decline in October, “is an anomaly or underscores a more systemic trend.”

“Our approach to a reduced labor force has to be multi-faceted, including greater outreach to students and workers here in Vermont, as well as regionally and nationally, and to significantly increase funding for programs that will train - or retrain - Vermonters for the jobs that match the employers' openings,” Noonan said.

The labor force represents the total number of people who have jobs or who are actively looking for work.

The labor force tally does not include individuals who are not working or have given up searching for a job.

There is often debate over the impact on the labor force of people reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce, versus the effect of discouraged working-age individuals who give up looking for jobs.  

Noonan said employers in a wide range of fields are reporting difficulty in recruiting workers.

The monthly jobless rate is one of several employment measures.

Other, alternative rates, are based on different data. For example, the U-6 rate includes discouraged workers who are no longer searching for jobs and workers who are employed part-time but would like to work full-time. the U-6 rate is a quarterly average and not calculated monthly. the most recent U-6 unemployment rate for Vermont is 8.7 percent.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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