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Where Are Vermont's Workers Going?

While Governor Peter Shumlin hails the recent drop in Vermont's unemployment rate, the numbers behind the 4.1% figure are raising concerns.  That's because the size of the state's labor force continues to shrink. 

The concerns are not new (and they're not unique to Vermont) but in a Burlington Free Press column (behind their paywall) economist Art Woolf is raising an alarm about the problem a smaller labor force poses for Vermont employers who need workers. 

As a small state, questions can always be raised about the accuracy of month-to-month jobs figures, but there's clearly a trend in the decline in the state's labor force numbers. Here's an overview from the Public Assets Institute.

What the figures and the surveys don't reveal is why the labor force is shrinking. There's a debate over that.  Are people are retiring?  Are discouraged unemployed workers giving up? . 

Woolf suggests one reason may be that people are leaving the state.