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Ventriss: Economic Forecast

Since the Great Recession ended in June, 2009, changes in technology, disruption of traditional industries, and innovation in the workplace have occurred at a faster pace than ever before. After an unprecedented loss of nearly nine million jobs, the U.S. economy is fully recovered and continues to add jobs, and consumer confidence has reached its highest level since two thousand.

At the height of the recession, Vermont had lost fourteen thousand jobs and it took more than thirty six months to get them back. Today, our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and indicates full employment. But if we really are “fully recovered,” then it’s an uneven recovery.

Since two thousand and four, and lately in collaboration with Economic & Policy Resources, surveys to track business conditions, and provide insight into business sentiments and trends, have been conducted by the Vermont Business Roundtable.

Catchall phrases like “business conditions” or “business climate” define the general economic environment of enterprises and locations within a society - encompassing the attitudes of the government, political leaders, labor organizations, financial and lending institutions, toward businesses and business activity; attitudes that develop the regulatory, spending, and taxation policies, processes, and programs explicitly impacting the state’s business climate and economic environment.

In order to achieve a robust, competitive business climate and quality of life conducive to job creation, retention, and economic growth, there must be an open and collaborative discussion of business climate issues among business leaders and public officials.
To facilitate the process, the Vermont Business Roundtable suggests that there are some underlying principles or fundamental beliefs about the Vermont economy and policy priorities that offer helpful guidance.

Vermont’s economy is a complex and delicate ecosystem with significant regional variation – and regional equity is a core principle, meaning that policy development must be collaborative.

Furthermore, public policy priorities must balance the needs of employers and employees, while keeping in mind that costs do, in fact, matter.

Surveys suggest that optimism about the state’s business climate peaked in 2014, trended downward and then held steady at neutral until recently. Respondents are finally beginning to express higher levels of confidence in forecasts for demand and spending, which is encouraging – even though there continue to be concerns about finding qualified employees, challenging workforce demographics, Vermont’s general affordability, and uncertainty regarding healthcare.