Jobless rate still 2.4 percent, COVID-19 impact coming

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Jobless rate still 2.4 percent, COVID-19 impact coming

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 10:45am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont’s unemployment rate held at 2.4 percent in February as the major indices remained sluggish, with the labor force and employed down and unemployed up, but in small numbers. This of course is expected to change for the worse dramatically with the COVID-19 pandemic. Already unemployment claims are spiking and are expected to increase exponentially in coming weeks.

Today, the Vermont Department of Labor released data on the Vermont economy for the time period covering February 2020. According to household data from the Vermont Department of Labor, the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate reflects no change from the revised January rate.

The preliminary data released in February shows a labor force participation rate of 65.6% which is the lowest statewide level since September 1977.

“While the unemployment rate for the month of February shows no change from the revised January rate, it is important to remember that this data is not reflective of the current conditions” said Michael Harrington, Acting Labor Commissioner. “As businesses close due to COVID-19, we know there is a greater impact on Vermont’s labor force than what is actually being shown in the numbers. This data will begin to be reflected in the March release next month. The Department of Labor continues to adapt to the COVID-19 developments to serve employees and employers through this time, and I encourage anyone looking for assistance to reach out to us. Additionally, please continue to monitor or website, labor.vermont.gov, for the most up to date information from the Department.”

The comparable United States rate in February was 3.5 percent, a decrease of one-tenth of one percentage point from the revised January estimate. The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data for February show the Vermont civilian labor force decreased by 391 from the prior month’s revised estimate. The number of employed persons decreased by 281 and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 110.

The February unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 1.7 percent in Woodstock to 5.8 percent in Derby (note: local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally-adjusted). For comparison, the February unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 2.6 percent, which was a decrease of four-tenths of one percentage point from the revised unadjusted January level and a decrease of one-tenth of one percentage point from a year ago.

Not-Seasonally-Adjusted

The preliminary ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ jobs estimates for February show an increase of 3,800 jobs when compared to the revised January numbers. There was a decrease of 100 jobs between the preliminary and the revised January estimates due to the inclusion of more data. The monthly increase seen in the February numbers was primarily attributable to seasonal activity related to education. The broader economic trends can be detected by focusing on the over-the-year changes in this data series. As detailed in the preliminary ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ February data, Total Private industries have decreased by 2,200 jobs (-0.9 percent) and Government (including public education) employment has increased by 1,100 jobs (1.9 percent) in the past year.

Seasonally-Adjusted

The seasonally-adjusted data for February reports an increase of 500 jobs from the revised January data. As with the ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ data, this over-the-month change is from the revised January numbers which experienced an increase of 300 jobs from the preliminary estimates. The seasonally-adjusted over-the-month changes in February varied at the sub-sector level. Those with a notable increase include Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing (+100 jobs or +3.4%) and State Government (+600 jobs or +3.1%). Sectors with a notable decrease include: Private Education Services (-300 jobs or -2.2%) and Durable Goods Manufacturing (-200 jobs or -1.1%).

The Unemployment and Jobs Report for March is scheduled to be released on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.