By Jon Street | Vermont Watchdog
BURLINGTON, Vt. — The trend of recent layoffs across the state are “proof” Vermonters can’t wait any longer for their legislators to turn around the economy, argues Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
Scott said he’s been calling on lawmakers for the past two years to prioritize legislation that would help grow the economy and create new jobs. But so far that hasn’t happened
“When there are a thousand bills and there’s only a handful that deal with the economy or are trying to grow the economy or in some way make it more attractive to do business here, I think we’re missing the mark,” Scott said during an interview with Vermont Watchdog.
That statement comes days after about 140 IBM employees in Essex Junction learned they would lose their jobs, in addition to the 419 workers who were let go by the computer hardware company last year, according to Vermont Business Magazine.
Another 165 people were laid off from their jobs at the St. Albans Energizer plant in 2013, according to the Burlington Free Press. And yet another 143 employees of Plasan Carbon Composites will be out of work come May, as reported by the Bennington Banner.
While Scott attributed all the cuts to the “worldwide reorganization” of companies in their efforts to compete globally, he added that when companies are forced to cut jobs, workers in Vermont are some of the first to get the ax.
When businesses have to make cuts, they “cut the most expensive areas first.” That could explain what has become a “trend” in layoffs across Vermont, he said.
Responding to the specific news of IBM’s efforts to scale back its operations in Essex Junction, Scott said he fears Montpelier “isn’t doing enough” to grow the economy, create jobs and make doing business in Vermont easier.
In a Feb. 26 statement, Scott said, “Today’s news is proof we cannot wait another second to turn our full focus to rectifying this economic situation we find ourselves in.”
When IBM announced its downsizing, Gov. Peter Shumlin took an opportunity to remind residents of Vermont’s “fifth lowest” unemployment rate in the country and the state’s “diversified” economy.
“While we never want to hear about employment losses, Vermont has diversified its economy in recent years, with recovery and job growth across many sectors. We also enjoy the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country — the lowest rate east of the Mississippi. Companies in Vermont are looking for highly skilled, educated workers like those being affected by this reduction at IBM,” Shumlin said.
Contact Jon Street at firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @JonStreet.