Vermont Department of Employment & TrainingVermont Labor Force Statistics (Seasonally Adjusted) January 2003 December 2002 January 2002Total Labor Force 351,600 351,900 345,500 Employment 337,400 338,700 332,600 Unemployment 14,300 13,200 12,900 Rate (%) 4.1 3.7 3.7Montpelier – The Department of Employment and Training recently announced aseasonally adjusted state unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for January, an increase offour tenths of a percentage point from the revised December estimate. The comparablenational rate was 5.7 percent, down three tenths of a point from the prior month.Unemployment rates for Vermont’s 13 labor market areas ranged from 2.2 percent inHartford, to 8.4 percent in Newport. Labor market area rates are not seasonally adjusted;for comparison, the unadjusted rate for Vermont was 4.1 percent.”Modest improvement in our job statistics provided a positive sign in January butnational economic conditions remained uninspiring,” said Anne V. Ginevan,Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training. “Unemployment isgenerally higher than a year ago according to our latest estimates.”The Department revised its preliminary unemployment and job estimates for 2002according to the requirements of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This procedure isused each year to incorporate the latest information in the monthly estimates. The reviseddata indicates Vermont’s unemployment rate was generally lower in the last six monthsof 2002 than originally estimated. The increase from the revised December 2002unemployment rate to the January 2003 rate reflects, at least partly, some differences inthe estimation process.Seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs jumped 2,500 in January (see graph). Government educationemployment appeared to decline less than usual during the break in the school year; thusprompting an increase in the seasonally adjusted statistics. Private educational institutionsalso contributed to the surge. School calendar effects are temporary and usually offset thenext month, or soon thereafter. Retail trade experienced a modest improvement inJanuary, despite the usual cutbacks after the holiday season. Retail employment appearedless robust than usual in December and apparently the cuts were more modest in January.The detailed, unadjusted nonfarm jobs total fell by more than 5,000 due to seasonallayoffs in education, retail, construction and manufacturing. The net decline in jobs,however, was the smallest for January in at least 13 years. Leisure and hospitalityprovided a significant employment boost, although it was less than last year at this time.
Manosh closes hardwood sawmill in Morrisvilleby Kevin KelleyVermont Business MagazineOne of Lamoille County’s oldest industries suffered a severe setback in December with the closing of the Manosh Hardwoods sawmill. The move resulted directly in 25 Vermonters losing their jobs but many more locals working in related businesses are likely to be negatively affected.”It will have a big ripple effect,” says Howard Manosh, the mills owner. He notes that 90 percent of the logs processed by his plant came from Lamoille County woodlands. Several loggers and their suppliers will thus be left without a key source of income.”It wasnt an easy decision to make,” Manosh says. But his mill had ceased to be financially viable due to a drop in prices for American hardwoods tied to an upsurge in imports of finished wood products from China. “The margins just werent there anymore,” Manosh notes.The mill sold dried and green lumber to a range of customers throughout the United States.The 65,000-square-foot facility in Morrisville will remain idle until a buyer comes along – who almost certainly will not be in the sawmill business, Manosh says. The building is only seven years old, having been constructed as a replacement for a mill Manosh had owned in North Hyde Park that was destroyed in a fire.”I couldnt see it coming,” he says of the drop in American hardwood prices that forced the shutdown of the new mill. The market was thriving at the time that he decided to build the Morrisville plant, Manosh says.He continues to operate a variety of businesses in Lamoille County, including Vermont Precision Hardwoods, a furniture factory specializing in production of high-end bedroom pieces. But the same global economic forces that snuffed the sawmill are threatening his furniture-making business as well, Manosh notes. Vermont Precision Hardwoods had 130 employees a few years ago; its workforce has fallen to 50 today.The outlook for his furniture plant is not bright, Manosh acknowledges, adding, “We will put in every effort we can to keep it going.”
PETA is presenting Price Chopper CEO Neil Golub with a Compassionate Action Award for pulling the supermarket chain’s funding for the Nerger Lion and Tiger Show’s appearance at the Champlain Valley Fair. Golub pulled the company’s sponsorship after receiving complaints from Burlington residents who pointed out that the show is exploitive and inhumane. Golub claims that fair officials misled him about what Price Chopper would be sponsoring and that Price Chopper would never voluntarily support any form of animal abuse.”By refusing to sponsor the Nerger Lion and Tiger Show, Price Chopper is sending fair officials and attendees a strong message that big cats shouldn’t be subjected to unnatural environments, noisy crowds, and cruel training methods,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “The lion and 12 tigers who are forced to perform at the fair are owned by the Hawthorn Corp., which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly cited for failing to follow the minimal guidelines set by the Animal Welfare Act.”Hawthorn, which employs Juergen and Judit Nerger, the trainers who run the Nerger Lion and Tiger Show, has been cited for failure to maintain sufficient distance and/or barriers between animals and the general viewing public, failure to provide veterinary care to a lion who had three lesions, and failure to provide adequate veterinary care to three tigers who had sores on the tops of their heads and near their eyes. Hawthorn has also given animals to exhibitors such as L&L Exotics, which has a lengthy history of poor animal care. (L&L eventually had its license revoked.)Source: PETA.org.
The Douglas Administration and the Vermont State Employees Union failed to reach agreement on a cost-savings plan last night. As a result, the state will begin the process of laying off 200 to 300 unionized workers. Some number of unfilled positions will also be eliminated in an effort by the administration to save $7.4 million in the current fiscal year (2010). It had appeared the two sides were close to a resolution over the weekend following the state’s decision not to ask for actual pay cuts. Instead, both sides were using a combination of furlough days, unpaid holidays and the elimination of a wellness plan. However, the state, led by Administration Secretary Lunderville, insisted that the union had to pledge to find payroll savings for fiscal 2011 and 2012. The union did not want to tie its hands before a new, two-year contract was negotiated for those subsequent years.The last minute negotiations involved the union taking four unpaid furlough days, three unpaid holidays and using the medical plan surplus to achieve the $7.4 million. In past years, the surplus has been given back to the workers by the governor as a kind of “healthy” bonus at the end of the year. The union also offered to give up the wellness plan, dental insurance and tuition reimbursement going forward, which would save the state $5 million a year.While the state questioned whether those moves would save even that much, Lunderville has stated that the administration was looking for more on the order of $16.1 million savings in 2011 and $21.9 million in 2012. While he pledged not to undertake any more layoffs this year if the state and union reached a deal, he said a request by the union to guarantee no layoffs in 2011 and 2012 was out of the question. So, while a general agreement seemed to be reached over 2010, the deal broke down over future years.“VSEA made a new offer to the Douglas Administration with the hope of saving 200-300 jobs in 2010,” said VSEA Director Jes Kraus in a written statement. “The proposal was a significant compromise that addressed the Administration’s sustainability concerns without infringing on the collective bargaining process for the upcoming contract.”In regards to the Legislature’s effort to mediate, he said, “Rather than risk a neutral third party siding against them, the Administration is trying to circumvent the process for settling contract disputes. This is contrary to what the Joint Fiscal Committee had requested.”For their part, Speaker of the House Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin issued this statement on Tuesday: “We are disappointed that the Administration and the Vermont State Employees Association were unable to come to an agreement in the state labor negotiations.”While we were pleased that the two parties followed the Joint Fiscal Committee’s directive and identified $7.4 million worth of savings in FY10, it is unfortunate that the negotiations broke down over long term savings that could instead be realized in the bargaining process. We are gravely concerned that the impending layoffs of up to 300 state employees could have a devastating effect on state services. We will work with the Union and the Administration to lessen the impact that these layoffs could have on Vermonters.” Source: VSEA. Senator Shumlin’s office. 9.22.2009.
Lake Champlain Transportation Co,Charlotte Vermont to Essex New York Ferry Crossing is closed due to record high water. The Grand Isle, Vermont to Cumberland Head, New York Crossing is running as scheduled 24-7. The temporary ferry crossing at Chimney Point, Vermont, to Crown Point, New York, is running as scheduled 24-7.All Lake Champlain Ferry Customers are encouraged to sign up for our text and e-mail notification system at www.ferries.com(link is external).