Unemployment rate falls again

Vermont Labor Force Statistics (Seasonally Adjusted)
February 2002 January 2002 February 2001

Total Labor Force 345,500 345,300 333,800

Employment 333,400 332,800 323,000

Unemployment 12,100 12,600 10,800

Rate (%) 3.5 3.6 3.2
The Department of Employment and Training has announced a seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for February, down one tenth of a point from the revised January estimate. The comparable national rate in February was 5.5 percent, also down one tenth of a point from the prior month.
Unemployment rates for Vermont's 13 labor market areas ranged from 2.4 percent in Hartford, to 10.5 percent in Newport. Labor market area rates are not seasonally adjusted; for comparison, the unadjusted rate for Vermont was 4.6 percent.
"Layoffs in manufacturing produced a significant drop in the jobs available throughout Vermont," said Steven M Gold, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training. "However, the unemployment estimate shows a more optimistic picture of the labor market and may reflect the transition of workers to new activities."
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment declined for the third consecutive month as manufacturing continued to shed jobs. Durable goods producers reduced employment by 900. Nondurable manufacturing, however, rebounded slightly and added 200 jobs. The concentration of cuts in the durable goods group reflects a continuation of the trend experienced during the last year. Services bounced back from a difficult January by adding 500 jobs and construction added a similar number with a relatively strong month. Government employment fell by 600 after an unusual jump the prior month. The vagaries of the educational calendar contributed to the volatility of government employment.
The detailed, unadjusted nonfarm jobs total increased by 1,800 as state and private colleges resumed educational activities after semester break. However, most industries pared jobs due to slack seasonal demand or the slow economic conditions. Cuts in construction and retail trade were more modest than usual. Manufacturing showed the most significant reductions as firms in machinery and electronic equipment trimmed their workforce. Stone cutting rebounded after their traditional January layoffs, but the increase was modest. Lodging and resorts reduced employment slightly, which is not unusual, and may reflect uncooperative weather conditions. Jobs in business services continued to edge lower. Health services, however, continued to add jobs, especially outside hospitals.
The total nonfarm job count remained 1.5 percent below last year.

This article was prepared by the Vermont Department of Employment and Training.