• Vt. jobless rate may reflect IBM layoffs
     | August 20,2013

    Vermont’s unemployment rate rose for the third consecutive month in July to 4.6 percent, an increase of 0.2 of a percent from June, the state Department of Labor reported Monday. The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted.

    The national average for July was 7.4 percent.

    “The economic recovery for Vermont since the recession has been uneven at certain points,” Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a statement accompanying the monthly report. “While Vermont still holds one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and the number of UI (unemployment insurance) claimants continues to decline and employers continue to hire, we also have faced challenges such as the IBM layoffs.”

    The department’s Mathew Barewicz said he’s uncertain how much last month’s uptick in the unemployment rate was affected by the June layoffs of 419 IBM workers

    “It certainly is at a minimum a large coincidence in terms of the timing but I don’t have any indication definitively,” said Barewicz, the department’s economic and labor market information chief.

    The monthly unemployment rate is based on a telephone survey of 1,400 selected households.

    Similar to last year, he said Vermont’s unemployment rate rose for several months before leveling off and then declining.

    “It is typical during economic recoveries as the unemployment rate decreases you anticipate seeing your labor force grow and your unemployment rate grow,” Barewicz said, “because the perception is the economy is improving and so people return to the labor force so they start looking for work.”

    Similar to last month there were job gains in education, health care and professional and business services. Employment declined in construction, financial services and leisure and hospitality.

    Barewicz said the construction industry received a temporary boost after Tropical Storm Irene when there was an infusion of federal disaster funds for cleanup and reconstruction.

    According to the Public Assets Institute, Vermont was one of 38 states that reported an increase in the unemployment rate last month, but was one of only eight states where the increase was considered statistically significant. The Montpelier-based policy group also said the number of working Vermonters continued to fall with 335,689 people employed in July — 500 less than June and a drop of nearly 4,400 since the most recent peak in January 2012.

    Unemployment rates ranged from 3 percent in Hartford to 5.7 percent in Newport. (Local unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted).

    The following are labor market unemployment rates with the June and July comparison:

    Rutland, 5.9 percent (June), 5.2 percent (July); Barre-Montpelier, 4.6 percent 4.4 percent; Bennington, 5.7 percent, 5.2 percent; Burlington-South Burlington, 4.2 percent, 4 percent; Bradford, 5.1 percent, 4.8 percent; Brattleboro, 5 percent, 4.5 percent; Manchester, 5.4 percent, 4.8 percent; Middlebury, 5 percent, 4.7 percent; Morristown-Stowe, 4.9 percent, 4.3 percent; Randolph, 5 percent, 4.6 percent; Springfield, 6 percent, 5.5 percent; St. Johnsbury, 5.8 percent, 5.3 percent; Swanton-Enosburg, 4.8 percent, 4.7 percent; Warren-Waitsfield, 3.7 percent, 3.4 percent; Woodstock, 3.7 percent, 3.2 percent.

    bruce.edwards@ rutlandherald.com

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