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Data supports Vermont’s pandemic population growth

BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – New data indicates that nearly 5,000 people migrated to Green Mountain State at the height of the pandemic.

Vermont may have one of the lowest populations of any state in the country, but a new report shows that, slowly but surely, it is growing.

“People want to live here and that’s a good sign. And that’s generally good for the economy, kind of generally, good for the quality of life,” said Steph Yu of the Montpellier-based Public Assets Institute, the left-wing think tank that put together the report.

According to the institute, Vermont’s population recorded a gain of 4,864 people from July 2020 to July 2021. Data estimates come from the US Census Bureau. The increase is more than two and a half times the number of people who moved to Green Mountain State in 2018.

“That’s a net number. So we’re showing that a network of 4,800 people came in. But that probably means 20,000 moved in and 15,000 left, or you know, there’s a bigger change than this net number is only going to reflect,” Yu said.

He notes that people who want to move to Vermont boost the state’s economy and vitality, but it can also create challenges in finding affordable homes and rentals. “Can public investment and public services keep pace with growth?

The data also shows that while the labor force is still declining, the workforce has grown every month from 2022 so far.

“In a larger context, we are still not back to where we were before the pandemic. As a result, this is manifested in a record number of job offers from employers. For the past three consecutive months, we’ve exceeded 25,000 open job openings,” said Mathew Barewicz of the Vermont Department of Labor.

He says it’s encouraging to see the labor force begin to recover, but there are many factors as to why the labor market is struggling as Vermont’s population grows. Many older Vermonters are leaving the workforce, and some Vermonters are working remotely for out-of-state employers. “An increase in population might not be an increase in local labor supply if it brings jobs with it or if locals take jobs out of state and do them remotely,” a Barewicz said.

Yu from the institute says it’s unclear if people will continue to migrate to Vermont at this rate. The data snapshot is from the first year and a half of the pandemic, which likely influenced many of their decisions to move to the state.

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