Noting that Vermont's unemployment rate has fallen to 4.4 percent, third-lowest in the nation and more than three points lower than the national average, Gov. Peter Shumlin today praised the efforts of Vermont employers and the State agencies that have worked to propel the Vermont economy forward from the economic recession that started in 2007.
"Vermont's employers have persevered to keep their businesses afloat, tried hard to avoid laying off their workers, and kept their head in the game so that they've been able to ramp up and meet the demands of the economic rebound that began in 2011," said Gov. Shumlin, speaking at a press conference at Omega Electric Construction in South Burlington, one of the Vermont firms that has been hiring unemployed workers.
"Vermont's low unemployment rate is incredibly encouraging, particularly since the decrease is not due to "discouraged workers' leaving the workforce. In fact, in Vermont, this measure has shown mild improvement," the Governor said. "In addition, the number of people unemployed in Vermont has fallen by 15 percent, all excellent measures for our economy."
Gov. Shumlin said that these statistics reflect the information that he is hearing from employers across the state who indicate they have position vacancies and are looking for qualified applicants to fill those positions. The Vermont Department of Labor said those openings include jobs in manufacturing, health care, business and professional services, retail, and anticipated new openings in construction, building trades, and hospitality as the summer months approach.
"We still have work to do to ensure that our economy continues to move forward, and the job cuts linked to the federal sequester have added some uncertainty to our employment situation," Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Miller said. "But overall, I feel that Vermont is headed in the right direction and leading the nation and region in several important key indicators."
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the number of jobs in Vermont is increasing and leading the region. The report states that in the final quarter of 2012, "Vermont experienced the strongest employment gains of all the New England states, increasing employment 0.7 percent (2,200 jobs) between October and November of 2012." Connecticut was the only other state to gain jobs over this period, adding 300 jobs. Employment changes in the other New England states ranged from --0.03 percent in Massachusetts (--1,100 jobs) to --0.17 percent in Maine (--1,000 jobs).
Gov. Shumlin said recent outreach and recruitment, as a joint effort of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Department of Labor, have contributed to the strong economic numbers. Some of those programs include:
-On the Job Training (OJT) and Job Development programs through VDOL are able to connect job seekers to employers with some wage reimbursement support.
-The Agency of Commerce and Community Development's Vermont Training Program supports employers seeking to provide new or upgrade current training to employees.
-VDOL grants for Internships (high school, college and two years post high school or college); Adult Tech Ed/Career Center grants; training grants to Vermont businesses who hire new workers, or upgrade worker skills for business expansion.
-Through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the STEM (Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology) Initiative pays new hires at Vermont companies $1,500 cash annually for each year they are employed, up to five years.
-The VEGI program provides an inducement to growing Vermont companies and out-of-state companies considering expansion or relocation to invest in Vermont and hire Vermonters for well-paying jobs with good benefits.
-Make Vermont Home -- a program designed to increase awareness of employment. opportunities in Vermont and assist Vermont businesses with the recruitment of difficult to fill positions.
-VDOL Apprenticeship Programs.
-The VDOL has helped sponsor numerous job and career fairs in recent months. A recent job fair in central Vermont drew 800 people.
The Vermont Department of Labor will soon sponsor the summer youth employment program which gives valuable work experience to