State of Working X

Similar to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America, the State of Working XX (SWXX) is a series of reports produced by state EARN groups describing the economic conditions for working families in their state. SWXX reports provide a comprehensive description of state economic conditions, often with a focus on labor market conditions. SWXX reports provide data and analysis on job growth, unemployment, wages, incomes, poverty rates, taxes, wealth, immigration, and other issue areas relevant to current state economic conditions and policy discussions. Many SWXX reports also include tailored and timely policy recommendations for strengthening economic conditions for workers in each state.



State of Working Vermont 2021

In 2020 and 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic changed work. Parents and caregivers, mothers especially, racked up hours of unpaid labor caring for kids and overseeing schoolwork while holding down jobs. Essential workers went out to work, patched together child care, and worried about bringing illness home. These frontline workers were newly visible and respected—low-paid grocery clerks alongside higher-status health care professionals.

In March 2020, when the government declared a state of emergency and Vermont shuttered nearly all public spaces, 80,000 Vermonters were suddenly unemployed, many without income. Later, some returned to jobs and offices, but others left the labor force for good.

The slowdown gave many people time to reorder their priorities and recalibrate the balance among work, family, and other pursuits. And a labor shortage strengthened workers’ position to demand better pay and working conditions. Nationally, public support for unions grew. If the power shift is sustained, it will be one good outcome of the pandemic.

The pandemic illuminated problems Vermont already faced: policy gaps that leave families struggling to pay rent and other bills or systemic health inequities, from authorities’ neglect of language differences to the physical effects of generational trauma, that render Vermont’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) more vulnerable to illness and death. But the economic crisis caused by the health crisis, and the government’s robust response to it, also offered lessons that, if heeded, can improve Vermonters’ lives during both normal times and emergencies.


The State of Working Connecticut – 2021

Connecticut Voices for Children released a new report, “The State of Working Connecticut,” which outlines the need for progressive budget reform, highlights the depth and scope of the state’s economic problems, and provides policy options to address those problems. The combination of a shrunken economy with a highly inequitable distribution has weakened both the state’s fiscal standing and the standard of living for most families, and Connecticut’s economy is on track to grow slower than the U.S. economy during recovery from the recent recession if the state doesn’t act to ensure this doesn’t happen.


State of Working Georgia: Pandemic Job Numbers are Improving, but Inequitably

Key Takeaways:

  • Nearly 60 percent of Georgia’s pre-pandemic labor force have turned to the unemployment safety net at some point during the last year.
  • In February 2021, unemployment claims for Black Georgians were 52 percent higher than those of all other filers, and 71 percent higher than those of white Georgians alone.
  • Hispanic and Black women have experienced at least 15 percent underemployment since the pandemic, while underemployment for Black men was 18 percent in the first quarter of 2021, more than any other group in Georgia’s workforce.

Recent historic federal stimulus packages have extended critical unemployment safety net programs, provided immediate cash aid to millions of employed and unemployed Georgians and provided state and local funding to jumpstart Georgia’s recovery. As a result, state lawmakers have an opportunity to target federal and state funding to rebuild Georgia’s economy through racial and gender equity-centered solutions that can support economic mobility for all Georgians. However, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows how some Georgians are beginning to recover, while others have experienced little to no recovery at all.


State of Working Vermont 2020

In March 2020, almost overnight, businesses shut, schools closed, and jobs disappeared as we hunkered down to slow the spread of the hyper-contagious, deadly coronavirus. After a gradual reopening, infections spiked in the fall, and restrictions were renewed on socializing, travel, and business. If the future is uncertain, this much is clear: The COVID-19 pandemic ended the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, following the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

But when the COVID-19 recession hit, many Vermonters had still not recovered from the previous recession. While real (inflation-adjusted) income for those at the top was up 8 percent, those at the bottom saw a 7 percent drop from 2007 to 2019. And there was no improvement in poverty or real median household income by the end of this recovery. To make matters worse, the financial crisis of 2007 followed three decades of stagnant income for many Vermonters along with rising health care, child care, and housing costs, and increasing inequality, as more and more wealth flowed to fewer and fewer people at the top.