VT’s Unemployment Claims Rate: Bad vs. US, Better vs. Rest of New England

May 20, 2020

By David Flemming

Just a few weeks ago, Vermont had the highest percent of its labor force in the US applying for unemployment. As Vermont has lifted business restrictions, our unemployment levels have sunk to levels that remain historically high, but are average for New England.

Using the mosty recent data (for the week ending May 9), it is clear that Vermont is in a slightly better position employment wise than just a few weeks ago. In fact, Vermont no longer has the worst unemployment claims rate in the country, falling to #10. We managed to get under 20% of Vermont’s labor force filing new and ongoing unemployment claims, at 19.7%.

While an 18.8% ongoing claims rate is still higher than Maine, Mass., and New Hampshire, it is lower than Rhode Island and Connecticut.

And our 0.9% new claims rate is the smallest of all 6 states in New England! While this number tends to fluctuate from week to week, it is still a good sign.

Since April 25th, the unemployment claims rates of Maine, Mass., New Hampshire., Rhode Island and Connecticut have all increased. Vermont is the only state in New England where it has actually decreased. Of course, when you have the largest claims rate in the country on April 25th, that might not be the most surprising.

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

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