Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims have shown a slow, steady decline since the beginning of the year, after the wild swings typical of the holidays. Initial claims for the week of February 8, 2020, were 475, which is typical for this time of year. Claims fell 6 from last week and were 25 fewer than they were at this time last year.
Altogether 5,299 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 188 from a week ago and 554 fewer than a year ago.
Nationwide, according to the US Labor Department for the week ending February 8, initial claims for state unemployment benefits were up 2,000 claims to 205,000. Economists were anticipating about 210,000.
The 4-week moving average held at 212,000 claims. After a long decline from the Great Recession in 2009, claims had generally leveled off over the past year, until the late 2019 increase pushed them to a two-year high.
For most weeks of 2017 and 2018 claims were lower than the year before, but have been up and down since mid-2019.
Vermont, like the nation as a whole, has been locked into a historically low period of unemployment and a tight labor market. If this is so, claims for the week and year should look similar to the prior year, as they had been the last several months. This post-holiday period should bring better understanding of the labor market.
For UI claims last week in Vermont by industry, Services, which typically accounts for most claims, represented only 34 percent of all claims and about the same total as last week. Construction claims were at 35 percent for the week, but in actual claims were a little lower than last month and a little higher than last year. Manufacturing increased a bit to 12 percent, which is well below last year.
Vermont's unemployment rate for December held at 2.3 percent. Vermont's rate is tied for lowest in the nation. SEE STORY. The US rate was unchanged at 3.5 percent. This is the lowest US rate in 50 years.
UI tax rates for employers fell again on July 1, 2018, as claims continue to be lower than previous projections. Individual employers' reduced taxable wage rates will vary according to their experience rating; however, the rate reduction will lower the highest UI tax rate from 7.7 percent to 6.5 percent. The lowest UI tax rate will see a reduction from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent.
Also effective July 1, 2018, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will be indexed upwards to 57% of the average weekly wage. The current maximum weekly benefit amount is $466, which will increase to $498. Both changes are directly tied to the change in the Tax Rate Schedule.
NOTE: Employment (nonfarm payroll) - A count of all persons who worked full- or part-time or received pay from a nonagricultural employer for any part of the pay period which included the 12th of the month. Because this count comes from a survey of employers, persons who work for two different companies would be counted twice. Therefore, nonfarm payroll employment is really a count of the number of jobs, rather than the number of persons employed. Persons may receive pay from a job if they are temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, vacation, or labor-management dispute. This count is based on where the jobs are located, regardless of where the workers reside, and is therefore sometimes referred to as employment "by place of work." Nonfarm payroll employment data are collected and compiled based on the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, conducted by the Vermont Department of Labor. This count was formerly referred to as nonagricultural wage and salary employment.