Some VT Counties Hit Worse by Unemployment

June 5, 2020

By David Flemming

All of Vermont’s counties have been hit hard by unemployment after Covid-19 restrictions came into play in March. But some have been less impacted than others.

Orleans has had the “least worst change” going from 4.6% unemployment March 14 to 21.6% on May 23

Most of Vermont was doing pretty well unemployment wise before the crisis, with 12 of the 14 counties sporting unemployment rates below 4.0%. Fast forward to May 23,and the story is very different. Only two counties had unemployment rates below 20.0%- Franklin and Orange, at 19.8%. The other 12 counties were all in the low twenties, topping out at Lamoille’s 24.7% unemployment rate.

Before the virus hit, Chittenden had the lowest unemployment rate in Vermont. Now, it has fallen to the middle of the pack at 8th highest, with a whopping 21.6% unemployment.

I am curious to see how these trends will impact Vermont’s labor force after the Covid-19 restrictions are lessened. Vermont’s industries are not evenly spread out across the state. And some are more easily able to adapt than others. Tourism is the least flexible industry, simply because it requires a free movement of people to be sustainable, which seems highly unlikely in the near term.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

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