Governor Scott in Essex Tuesday, shows how the state’s demographics are hindering workforce development, as both the youngest and oldest working groups have fewer people, even as the state has increased its population. Officials emphasize critical need for State budget to focus on retaining and attracting workers and strengthening the communities hit hardest by workforce shortage. With the governor are, from left, Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle, Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington and Labor Economist Mathew Barewicz. VBM photo. Graphics courtesy of the Vermont Department of Labor. See below.
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today visited “Vermont’s Largest Job Fair” at the Essex fair grounds to promote the many trades jobs available in Vermont and to champion proposals to reverse Vermont’s workforce shortage.
Labor economist and Director of Economic and Labor Market Information Mathew Barewicz presented data on Vermont’s labor force and demographic trends, illustrating the significant challenge these trends pose to the state.
Pointing to these trends, Governor Scott said, “That’s why, going into this session, every initiative my Administration proposed had workforce in mind. Whether it’s housing, water and sewer infrastructure, weatherization, broadband and more – nearly every proposal aims to grow the economy and make Vermont more affordable to help make our state a more attractive place to live, work and raise a family.”
The latest available data shows that eight of Vermont’s 14 counties have seen labor force declines of more than 10% since their peak labor force, and six counties – Bennington, Caledonia, Essex, Rutland, Windham and Windsor – have seen declines of more than 15% since peak. The proportion of working age Vermonters (ages 20-64) also declined, dropping by nearly 5% between 2010 and 2020.
Barewicz also presented data showing these trends are mirrored in Vermont’s schools. Statewide K-12 enrollment has fallen 21.3% since 2004, and 11 of 14 counties have seen double digit declines in student enrollment, with decreases between 10% and 21% since 2011.
Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle and Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington joined the event to discuss the Administration’s efforts to help both workers and employers fill jobs available in the state, but noted the data shows the state needs to bring more workers to the state to reverse these trends.
“We have a plan, a vision to help transform Vermont using our once-in-a-generation opportunity the federal government has given us,” concluded Governor Scott. “That’s why I’ve been raising concerns about the Legislature’s budget, which doesn’t have the same focus. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need to get this right. So in the last few weeks of the session, Vermonters can count on me and my team to continue pushing to make the most of this moment, and invest in the priorities that will set us up for long term success, not just place bridges and Band-Aids on government programs.”
2.26.2022. Montpelier www.vermont.gov