by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The December 2019 unemployment rate was unchanged from last month, but the three major data points were all worse from November and both the Labor Force and Employment were worse from a year ago. However, the Unemployment numbers from last year improved by over thousand and the rate itself is down three-tenths. The Vermont Department of Labor released data on the Vermont economy Friday morning. According to household data, the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for December was 2.3 percent. The preliminary data released in December shows a labor force participation rate of 65.6 percent which is the lowest statewide level since September 1977. The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data for December show the Vermont civilian labor force decreased by 946 from the prior month’s revised estimate. The number of employed persons decreased by 1,021 and the number of unemployed persons increased by 75. The change to the number of employed persons was statistically significant in the seasonally-adjusted series. The comparable United States unemployment rate in December was 3.5 percent, which was also unchanged from the revised November estimate. Vermont continues to have the lowest rate in the nation, tied with South Carolina and Utah. New Hampshire is number 6 at 2.6 percent.
by Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn At VTrans, we know how much you count on us to keep Vermont’s roadways safe for travel during winter weather and storms. This time of year, you’ll see our fleet of 268 plow trucks out in full force, plowing millions of miles of roads and highways and doing our part to keep you moving. But for our crews to do their work safely and successfully, we need your help.
Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Vermont House passed H.107, the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill on a vote of 89-58. Today’s vote was the final hurdle for the proposed legislation before it heads to the governor’s desk. The bill guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid parental or bonding leave and up to 8 weeks of paid family care leave. The bill also contains the opportunity for individuals to opt-in to a personal medical leave policy for up to 6 weeks. Governor Phil Scott has consistently vowed to veto a mandatory family leave bill and has proposed a voluntary plan. The House and Senate reached an agreement in a conference committee last week on H107. Advocacy groups that have championed the initiative expressed concern that the conference bill does not provide temporary disability insurance or enough public oversight of the program. The Senate voted on Friday (20-9) to approve the conference committee report, setting up today's House vote.
Vermont Business Magazine Today Vermont Law School (VLS) and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) announced the launch of the Vermont Legal Food Hub. Located at VLS’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) in South Royalton, the program will match income-eligible farmers and business owners with skilled attorneys willing to provide free legal services.
Vermont Business Magazine Attorney General Donovan took the lead in filing an amicus brief at the US Supreme Court on behalf of thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, asserting that oil and gas pipelines may not cross the Appalachian Trail in national forests. Congress exempted the National Park System when they otherwise broadly allowed oil and gas pipelines to pass over federal land. The case currently pending before the US Supreme Court, US Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, presents the question of whether the US Forest Service may grant rights-of-way through lands crossed by the Appalachian Trail within national forests.
Vermont Business Magazine Burlington Electric Department (BED) today launched its new Preferred Electric Vehicle Dealership Network through which BED will recommend that the Burlington community shop at local automobile dealerships that will make buying and leasing electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) more easy to navigate and will help advance Burlington’s 2030 goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy (NZE) city. The nine Network dealerships will process both BED and State of Vermont EV and PHEV rebates at the point of sale, allowing customers to benefit from the incentives in their financing packages and not need to engage in additional post-sale paperwork to claim rebates.
Vermont Business Magazine Grants are now available to support projects through the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation. The South Lake Champlain Fund supports projects focused on education and research concerning the cultural and ecological history and heritage of southern Lake Champlain. Projects must be located on the southern portion of Lake Champlain (the area of Lake Champlain south of Crown Point in both Vermont and New York) with a preference for projects directly on the lake or in close proximity. School-based projects are encouraged. The fund also aims to support projects that involve experts and others living in the southern Lake Champlain region. Matching funds are encouraged but not required.
Vermont Business Magazine About six months before he graduated from the University of Vermont in May, Eric Grunfeld launched his startup company and began developing what he believes is a first-of-its-kind product. Since then, he has worked on a patent application for the technology that he hopes eventually to sell to automobile insurance companies to prevent distracted driving. At every step, Grunfeld grappled with numerous questions but knew no one who could answer them. A UVM friend told him about the new UVM Mentoring Network. Grunfeld searched its database for insurance industry experts who could help him hone his concept. Among them, he found fellow UVM alum Christine Landon.
Vermont Business Magazine Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont today announced a new partnership with a non-profit organization Civica Rx. Civica was formed in 2018 by three philanthropies and numerous health care organizations to develop inpatient generic medications. This new partnership, in conjunction with 18 Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the nation, as well as other key partners, is to address generic medications outside of the hospital setting. Through this relationship, Vermonters will have greater access to essential medications at more affordable prices and will ensure access to lifesaving drugs.
Vermont Business Magazine While Vermonters support banning food waste from landfills – and a whopping 72 percent already compost or feed food scraps to their pets or livestock – few say they are willing to pay for curbside composting pick-up, new University of Vermont research shows. The study, published today in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, comes as Vermont prepares to implement a mandatory law that makes it illegal to throw food items in the trash beginning July 1, 2020. Several large cities including San Francisco and Seattle have implemented similar policies, but Vermont is the first state to ban household food waste from landfills. The policy is the last phase of a universal state recycling law passed in 2012 that bans all food waste, “blue bin” recyclables and yard debris from landfills statewide by 2020.
Vermont Business Magazine Besides reducing their environmental impact and saving money, members who have enrolled in Vermont Electric Co-op’s Co-op Community Solar Program often cite convenience and lack of equipment maintenance as major reasons they participate. Candice Campbell and her husband Richard didn’t have a good site at their Derby home for panels, and for a long time they felt stymied in their efforts to green up their energy use. But as soon as VEC’s Co-op Community Solar was launched, they enrolled. “Instead of everyone putting up panels, roof-by-roof, you sponsor panels in an existing solar farm,” Candice Campbell said. “This program takes the burden off the homeowner, which is great.”