by Rob Roper
The new jobs numbers for August are out, and they do not speak well of Peter Shumlin’s policies as he completes his first term in office. Unemployment continued its upward trend in the Green Mountain State, rising from 5.0% in July to 5.3% in August. This increase comes despite drop in the national unemployment rate from 8.3% to 8.1%.
The spike in the Vermont unemployment number also comes despite a corresponding decrease in the labor force from 357,070 to 356,723. Lately we have witnessed on the national level several instances of optimistic workers returning to the labor market as being responsible, ironically, for up-ticks in unemployment rate. This is not the case in Vermont. We’re simply losing jobs faster than workers are growing too discouraged to look.
Vermont’s unemployment was at 4.6% in May. According to the Public Assets Institute, “Employment has declined for six straight months, and the number of unemployed Vermonters has grown from 16,400 in May to 19,000 in August.”
During their debate on VPR, Governor Shumlin and his opponent, Randy Brock, had an exchange over “green jobs.” Shumlin has made a point of touting the fact that Vermont has more green jobs than any other state. Brock called that claim, “junk statistics,” but may have missed the bigger picture with that line of argument.
Back in 2009, a study out of Juan Carlos University examined Spain’s policy of “investing” in green jobs and discovered that for every green job created 2.2 jobs in other sectors of the economy were destroyed. “Green” Spain’s current unemployment rate about to break 25%. So while major contributors to Shumlin’s campaign who are in the wind and solar businesses are doing very well via government subsidies and mandates, for everyone else the unemployment lines grow longer. Are we relearning Spain’s lesson here in Vermont?
One thing seems clear. Shumlin’s campaign promise of two years ago that government spending on “green” businesses (not to mention his promise that single payer healthcare would attract new businesses to Vermont) has not been fulfilled. In fact, the opposite appears to be true.