By Rob Roper
As the Legislature plans its agenda for the 2018 session, our elected leaders might consider addressing some of the issues highlighted by the business magazine, Forbes, regarding our economic situation. Out of the 50 states, Forbes ranks Vermont 48 for business climate. Only Alaska and West Virginia project a more dismal future than we do.
Among the categories the magazine looked at, Vermont ranked 47th for business costs, 44th in regulatory environment, 44th in economic climate, and, most worrisome, 49th in growth prospects.
The “bright spots” for our state were middling scores in labor supply (28th) and quality of life (23rd). That poor score on quality of life for Vermont, where we usually score in the top ten, was a bit of a shocker.
The report also notes that the cost of doing business in Vermont is 12 percent above the national average, our job growth rate for 2017 was just 0.9 percent, and our net migration in 2016 was -1900.
From the report:
At $31 billion, Vermont has the smallest economy in the U.S. Its five-year average unemployment rate of 4% was the fourth lowest among states, but Vermont suffers from business costs that are 12% above the national average. The state’s economic outlook is also weak—projected to be the second worst in the U.S. over the next five years. Income growth is also expected to badly lag the rest of the country.
The policies and progressive political philosophies of the past several decades have put us in this mess. Getting out will require a very different mindset and priorities. It can be done. In just a few political cycles, North Carolina has reformed its tax and regulatory environment dramatically. Forbes now lists it as the No. 1 state for business.