Vermont’s Lackluster Economy Gets Noticed 3000 Miles Away

February 28, 2020

By David Flemming

Vermont is falling behind the rest of the United States economically. Many Vermonters have been well-aware of this for a while now. But news of our lackluster economy has reached the shores of the United Kingdom.

The Economist, published in London, England, is a left-leaning magazine. It recently published an article entitled: “The road not taken: As wages grow across America, one state is left behind.” Any guesses? Yup. Vermont.

The author writes, “on both a per-hour and per-week basis, Vermont has seen the weakest wage growth of any state in the past decade, despite a rapid rise in the minimum wage and low unemployment. Real wages remain lower than they were when the last recession ended. What has Vermont got wrong that much of the rest of America has got right?”

Notice how they mention “a rapid rise in the minimum wage” in the same breath as “real wages remain lower.” That’s not possible unless you raise the minimum wage and employers are forced to cut back hours, resulting in less pay per week.

The article concludes that “weak earnings growth is in part the product of a relatively weak economy. In the past decade Vermont’s gdp has grown at two-thirds the rate of America’s. Critics point to a mountain of red tape and regulation. The state comes close to the bottom of various indices of ‘economic freedom’ produced by libertarian think-tanks. These may be rough and ready (ie: crude but effective) but, when it comes to the regulation of land, small-government types may have a poi.”

And, yes, I bring this up in the week our legislators voted to both increase the minimum wage and “reform” Act 250 by making it more expensive, complicated, and uncertain to comply with on purpose.

Sometimes, all it takes is for a legislator or neighbor to hear something from an objective voice to change their mind. The Economist has given Vermonters as objective an insight as they are likely to find. Before Vermont can move its economy forward, a sizable number of us will have to realize the true costs of overregulation.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

James Stuart February 29, 2020 at 4:20 am

The people in the Vermont legislature in Montpelier have no clue what they are doing they never miss a chance to raise the taxes and make it difficult for businesses to grow and prosper? They waste more time and money on things that seem to not benefit anyone. The roads are terrible the taxes are ridiculous and people are leaving the state and moving south where the weather is warm and it is cheaper to live and employment is plentiful.


Doug Richmond March 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

The Vermont legislature is NOT representative of the average Vermonter.
The candidates are not representative of the average Vermonter either, WHY
Conservatives are shunned and shamed and marginalized, now that the
“Progressives” have created a strangle hold on power under the Golden Dome,
shaming and blaming Moderates and Conservatives for all the worlds failures.

It takes a very strong person to put up with that abuse, not many are willing to run for office.


Janice White February 29, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Vermont is the “step sister” of the New England states, why? It doesn’t have access to the Atlantic ocean, which the rest of the states have. Therefore, it became an agricultural state and through the years small farms became obsolete. Liberals like the fact that there isn’t manufacturing and view it as a state of “tourism”. People are leaving and the State is paying for people to come to Vermont. The “flatlanders” have taken over the Legislature and if you want to live here, be prepared to pay high taxes. What is the future for Vermont? more of the same.


Christie February 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm

I can remember the steps. First Hoff was elected. Then it was down hill from there. Granite died, family farming fell off. Taxes taxes taxes it’s a wonderment.


Mike March 1, 2020 at 9:01 pm

Act 250 needed to be fixed to make more compatible with the business climate of today. Instead, what did the dumb folks in Montpelier do, they made it even more restrictive and business unfriendly. Little wonder Vermont is in such an mess!!!


Ray Thomas March 1, 2020 at 10:44 pm

If l thought for one moment that the pablum puking liberals in Montpelier had the capacity to listen and make an intelligent decision l would comment. I will simply refer them to others of similar ilk (The Economist) in hopes they will read the article and act accordingly


Joseph March 2, 2020 at 4:25 am

I disagree, the legislature knows exactly what they’re doing and the continue to do it.


MDB March 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm



MDB March 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm

Stating the obvious (for some of us)…VT has become an incubator for socialist agendas. If anyone wants to look at what life would be like under a Bernie Sanders administration, look not further than socially woke VT. No growth, declining workforce, tax base declination and shrinking school census in record time. Where has common sense gone?!


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