Vt. has one of lowest jobless rates in nation
Vermont's unemployment rate ticked up 0.3 of a percentage point in July to 5 percent, but remains the fifth-lowest in the country, the state Department of Labor announced Friday.
“While the survey of Vermont households reported some economic weakness, we were still encouraged by Vermont businesses reporting increases in the employment numbers,” Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a statement.
With the state adding 2,500 jobs in July, Noonan said that points to the “strength and diversity of the state's economy.”
She said construction, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality all posted impressive job gains.
The Montpelier-based Public Assets Institute points out in its analysis that the increase in the July unemployment numbers, coupled with the fifth consecutive monthly decline in the number of Vermonters working, may be cause for concern.
The increase in the July unemployment rate follows a 0.1 percentage point increase in June. A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 5.6 percent. The statewide figures are seasonally adjusted.
The state experienced July job losses in the following sectors: retail, 400 jobs; professional and business services, 200 jobs; and local government, 200 jobs.
Unemployment rates for Vermont's 17 labor market areas ranged from 3.5 percent in Hartford to 6.9 percent in Newport (local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted).
Unemployment in the Rutland area inched up 0.2 point from June to 6.7 percent; Bennington's numbers were up 0.4 point to 6.4 percent.
Although both labor markets posted an increase in unemployment, the manufacturing sector continues to exhibit some strength.
“We do have a real bright spot, the expansion of Ellison Surface Technologies,” said Marvin Cota, the Labor Department's interim regional manager in Rutland. “That should provide a number of new jobs as they begin their expansion.”
Ellison is a subcontractor to GE Aviation, which is experiencing demand for its jet engines.
In Bennington County, the Labor Department's Wendy Morse had a similar story to tell.
“Manufacturing is still crazy in this area,” said Morse, the state's interim regional manager. “As far as hiring, a lot of openings in manufacturing across the board.”
She also said hiring has picked up as the result of short-term projects.
Neither Cota nor Morse could pinpoint why their respective areas experienced an uptick in unemployment. Morse said the Bennington numbers could reflect layoffs that occurred when a short-term project ended.
Both are filling in for longtime Rutland-Bennington manager Larry Sudlow, who is retiring.
Other areas of the state also reported an increase in unemployment. The Barre-Montpelier labor market experienced a 0.5 percentage point increase to 5.4 percent; Springfield's jobless rate barely nudged, up 0.1 point to 6.3 percent; Manchester held steady at 5.8 percent.
Vermont's unemployment rate is the fifth lowest in the country. The national unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage point to 8.3 percent in July.
The state said the increase in Vermont's unemployment rate was consistent with the experience of other Northeastern states.
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