Gov. Phil Scott visited “Vermont’s Largest Job Fair” on April 26 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.
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 their 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.
Pointing to these trends, 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.”