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Vermont Unemployment Up In September, Hurting National Ranking

Vermont’s unemployment rate went up last month, from 4.1 percent in August to 4.4 percent in September, according to the latest report from the Department of Labor. Over the same period, the national unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan attributes the increase to seasonal trends, noting that last year’s unemployment rate followed a similar pattern in late summer and early fall.

The increase in unemployment cannot be attributed to a growing labor force, as the number of Vermonters in the workforce stayed even at 350,150 from August to September. That number is 500 lower than it was last September.

The Newport area had the highest unemployment rate in the state in September, according to the new data, followed closely by Bennington. Woodstock had the lowest rate.

The rising rate is likely to have political implications on the campaign trail, as Republicans running for office in the state have consistently criticized Democratic economic policies as bad for the economy. At the same time, Shumlin has frequently used Vermont’s national unemployment ranking (which was second-lowest in the nation for months) as evidence of his success. The September numbers drop Vermont to 8th lowest (the state's rank in August was 5th).

The September report is the last one to be released before election day; October employment data will not be available until Nov, 21.

Correction 12:39 p.m. An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Vermont's Department of Labor rated the state as 5th lowest in unemployment for September. That ranking was from August.