Vermont’s unemployment rate held at an optimistic 2.3% in January

The Vermont Department of Labor released reported that the January 2024 unemployment rate for January was 2.3 percent.

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Vermont Department of Labor reported today that the January 2024 unemployment rate for January was 2.3 percent. This reflects no change from December’s revised estimate. The comparable United States rate in January was 3.7 percent, which also was unchanged from the revised December estimate. The monthly and annual data show strong growth in the labor force and employment, while job losses were relatively minimal.

The Vermont civilian labor force participation rate was 65.1 percent in January, an increase of one-tenth of one percentage point from the prior month’s revised estimate. The US labor force participation rate in February was 62.5 percent for the third consecutive month.

Vermont Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said, “Today the Department is releasing estimates for January 2024 as well as revised estimates to recent historical data. The updated data for 2023 shows that the initial estimates of jobs and the labor force underestimated the level of economic activity in the state. Specifically, preliminary estimates undercounted filled jobs by approximately 2,300 or nearly 1%, while the size of the labor force was revised up by almost 2,400 or nearly 1% such that the statewide labor force participation rate is higher by five-tenths of one percentage point. 

“This updated information more accurately reflects the economic growth the state has witnessed and bodes well for 2024,” Harrington said. “To support both job seekers and employers, the Department of Labor recently announced a new Work Based Learning and Training Grant opportunity. To learn more about these grants including how to apply, visit https://labor.vermont.gov/grants/work-basedlearning- and-training or contact [email protected] with any questions. The deadline is March 18th, 2024.” 

The seasonally adjusted Vermont data for January show the Vermont civilian labor force increased by 741 from the prior month’s revised estimate (see Table 1). 

The number of employed persons increased by 624 and the number of unemployed persons increased by 117. No changes were statistically significant in the seasonally adjusted series. 

The January 2024 unemployment rate for January was 2.3 percent. This reflects no change from December’s revised estimate.

The January unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 1.8 percent in Woodstock to 6.0 percent in Derby (note: local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally-adjusted – see Table 2). 

For comparison, the January unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 2.7 percent, an increase of five-tenths of one percentage point from the revised unadjusted December level and an increase of two-tenths of one percentage point from a year ago. 

Seasonally Adjusted (Table 3)

The seasonally adjusted data for January reported an increase of 2,000 jobs from the revised December data. There was an increase of 3,600 jobs between the preliminary and the revised December estimates due to the inclusion of more data. The seasonally adjusted over-the-month changes in January varied at the industry level. Industries with a notable increase included: Wholesale Trade (+200 jobs or +2.3%), Accommodation & Food Services (+500 jobs or +1.7%), and Administrative & Waste Services (+200 jobs or +1.5%). The industry with a notable decrease was Private Educational Services (-200 jobs or -1.6%). 

Not-Seasonally Adjusted (Table 4)

The preliminary ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ jobs estimates for January showed a decrease of 5,800 jobs when compared to the revised December numbers. As with the seasonally-adjusted data, this over-the-month change is from the revised December numbers which experienced an increase of 3,300 jobs from the preliminary estimates. The broader economic picture can be seen by focusing on the over-the-year changes in this data series. As detailed in the preliminary not seasonally adjusted January data, Total Private industries increased by 1,000 jobs (+0.4%) over the year and Government (including public education) employment increased by 900 jobs (+1.6%) in the past year. 

Weekly Unemployment Claims

While the unemployment rate is unchanged, weekly unemployment claims last week increased and have been relatively elevated. The holiday season typically brings much volatility as employers hire and fire seasonal workers.

Initial weekly claims were602 for the week of March 2, 2024. This is an increase of 184 from the previous week and up 28 from the previous year. Between all programs and including ongoing claims, they were 4,240 for the week, which is 283 more than the previous week but 250 fewer than the same time last year.

The UI Trust Fund remains a solid $266.9 million down $1.7 million from the prior week. 

Nationally, the job scene has remained strong despite interest rate increases initiated by the Federal Reserve last year to reduce inflation. Inflation has come down but while hiring has eased, the job market remains tight.

The US DOL reported that in the week ending March 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 217,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 215,000 to 217,000. The 4-week moving average was 212,250, a decrease of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 212,500 to 213,000. A year ago claims were running close to 250,000.

Total nonfarm payroll employment in the US rose by 275,000 in February, and the unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported March 8. Job gains occurred in health care, in government, in food services and drinking places, in social assistance, and in transportation and warehousing.

The Unemployment and Jobs Report for February is scheduled to be released on Friday, March 22, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

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