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.