Report: Data backs Vermont’s pandemic population growth

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 7:34 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - New data indicates that nearly 5,000 people migrated to the Green Mountain State during the height of the pandemic.

Vermont might have one of the lowest populations of any state in the country but a new report shows that slowly but surely -- it’s growing.

“People want to live here and that’s a good sign. And that’s generally good for the economy, sort of generally, good for quality of life,” said Steph Yu with the Montpelier-based Public Assets Institute, the left-leaning think tank that developed the report.

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

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

He notes that people wanting to move to Vermont boosts the economy and vitality of the state, but that it can also create challenges with finding affordable housing and rentals. “Can the public investment and the public services keep up with the rate of growth?”

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

“In a broader context, we are still not back to where we were pre-pandemic. As a result, this manifests in record high numbers of job postings from employers. For the last three months in a row, we’ve exceeded 25,000 open job postings,” said Mathew Barewicz with the Vt. Department of Labor.

He says it’s encouraging to see the labor force begin to recover but that many factors play into why the job market is struggling while Vermont’s population is increasing. Many older Vermonters are exiting the workforce and some Vermonters work remotely for out-of-state employers. “An increase in population might not be increased supply in local labor if they’re bringing jobs with them or locals are taking jobs from out of state and doing them remotely,” Barewicz said

The institute’s Yu says it’s hard to know 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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