Public Assets Institute

The Public Assets Institute believes that a fundamental purpose of government is to help improve the wellbeing of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable. PAI conducts research, performs fiscal analysis, and develops policies that mobilize the power and financial resources of government to advance the public good. We provide journalists, advocates, government officials, and ordinary citizens with sound, timely, and understandable analyses of state budgets and taxes, and of the fiscal implications of public policy options. PAI promotes wide democratic discussion of these issues so that public policy will serve the needs and hopes of all Vermonters. PAI is independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit.

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  • Vermont’s labor force hits a 15-year low

    In July Vermont’s labor force dropped to its lowest level in 15 years. The labor force comprises people who are employed, including self-employed, and those who are unemployed but actively job hunting. Vermont’s labor force fell to 343,850 last month—the lowest level since July 2002, when it numbered 343,835. The unemployment rate also dropped in […]

  • Vermont’s economy: Nothing to write home about

    Most Vermont counties are below average—at least when it comes to wages. The latest annual figures for 2016 show that only three counties had annual wages higher than the state average. Workers did worst in Orleans, Essex, and Grand Isle counties, where annual wages came in at more than 20 percent below the state average.

  • The workforce shrank. The gender divide persisted

    After trending up for 14 months, the labor force—people working or actively seeking work—decreased slightly in April and more in May. The losses came from the ranks of the employed, leaving the workforce below its 2009 peak by nearly 15,000 workers.

  • Finally, a pay raise

    In 2016, Vermont’s lowest-paid workers saw the biggest wage gains of any group: 4 percent. When unemployment is low, workers are in short supply, so wages should increase. But Vermont’s low jobless rate—5 percent or less since 2012—was having little effect, especially at the low end. For those workers wages increased less than 2 percent […]

  • Unemployment nears its lowest in four decades

    On average, 3.3 percent of Vermont’s labor force was officially unemployed in 2016. The average annual rate has dropped below this level only three times in the last 40 years: to 3.0 percent in 1988 and 1999 and 2.8 percent in 2000. Last month Vermont’s jobless rate fell to 3.0 percent.

  • State of Working Vermont 2016

    Pundits and historians will wrestle with the meaning of the 2016 elections for years. But from Bernie Sanders supporters on the left to Donald Trump backers on the right, voters sent one common message: They are frustrated with an economy that has left them behind and elected officials who seem indifferent to their plight. People […]

  • Workers’ lot improves but the gender gap endures

    In May the Vermont labor force increased for the fifth straight month, the best stretch of growth in seven years. The labor force, which includes people working and those actively looking for work, climbed to 345,821, the highest level in 15 months. Employment also rose in May, while unemployment dropped.

  • 2015 wasn’t as good as it looked

    Revised figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show fewer Vermonters were employed in 2015 than originally reported. Each March, the BLS reviews and revises data previously released. The earlier figures indicated on average 2,500 more people employed each month than the revised figures show. Vermont employment grew for a while after the […]

  • State of Working Vermont 2015

    Vermont’s economy began to grow again after the recession, but has since cooled off. Even before the recession, real economic growth was slow. And figures released in December 2015 show that Vermont’s gross state product—the value of goods and services produced in the state—was essentially the same in 2014 as it was in 2011, after […]

  • State of Working Vermont 2014

    Vermont’s economy has begun to recover, following the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009. Worker productivity is up. The state’s economy, as measured by the gross state product, was one of the fastest growing in New England between 2009 and 2013. But many Vermonters have seen little evidence of this recovery.