State’s Unemployment Rate Dips Below 5 Percent

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Vermont’s unemployment rate has dropped below 5 percent for the first time in nearly three and a half years.

The state Department of Labor says the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 4.9 percent, down two-tenths of a percent from the January figure.

Vermont had the fourth-lowest unemployment among the states in February. The national rate remained at 8.3 percent.                         

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says trends over the past year show that, while state government shed about 1,400 jobs, private industry added 4,700 jobs.                                     

"We were very pleased to see things not only holding steady but also moving in a positive direction – including in areas where we know that the wage basis is generally higher, such as in business and professional services, and in science and technical fields."

Noonan also says the state’s ‘re-employment’ program has become much more aggressive in reaching out to laid-off workers:

"We have re-employment assistance counselors that we received a federal grant from – we’ve put them in each area of the state. And so as people are being let go we’re actually doing a reach out very quickly to those folks and getting them into the offices and talking to them about other opportunities that might be available for them.

Along with professional & business services, other leading areas of private sector growth include education, and health services.

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