By Bill Conroy
What the locals say
The Green Mountain State needs some economic elevation.
The state motto for Vermont is “Freedom and Unity,” and The Green Mountain
State’s history displays plenty of both. Vermont declared its independence
apart from the original 13 colonies and was finally admitted to the union as the
14th state after 14 years as an independent republic.
The state today has the smallest economy of the 50 states. It also has among
the lowest unemployment rates, at 2.8 percent as of this past May, tied for
fifth lowest in the nation.
Vermont’s economy, however, is best described as lackluster. The state’s
compound annual growth rate between 2007 and 2017 was 0.8 percent,
compared to the national mark of 1.2 percent over the same period. Last
year, Vermont’s real gross domestic product grew by 1.1 percent, compared
to a 2.1 percent growth rate for the national economy, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Vermont has a reputation as a state with high property taxes and business
costs, and its population is aging faster than the nation as a whole, according
to U.S. Census Bureau data. As of last year, some 18 percent of Vermonters
were over the age of 65. That number is expected to jump to 21 percent by
2020 and 28 percent — or one in four state residents — by 2030.
In an effort to address the problem of its aging workforce and declining
population, Vermont recently enacted legislation that will pay individuals
who move to the state to work remotely for an employer out of state up
to $10,000 over two years — to cover expenses for relocating as well as
Although Vermont’s economy is flat in terms of growth, it is diversified,
with manufacturing, finance/insurance, tourism and the tech sectors all
contributing to the state’s economic landscape. Vermont ranks among the
top three domiciles worldwide for captive insurance companies, which are
self-funded insurance affiliates of companies not in the insurance business.
In fact, according to the Vermont Department of Economic Development,
about half of all the companies on the Fortune 100 and Dow 30 operate captive insurance subsidiaries domiciled in Vermont.
Manufacturing accounts for 11.1 percent of the state’s GDP and employs some
36,000 people, according to the Vermont Department of Labor Economic &
Labor Market Information. Vermont’s tech sector employs more than 77,000
people and accounts for a third of the state’s private-sector employment,
according to a report by the Vermont Technology Alliance.
Tourism is another economic engine for the state, which is a major skiing
destination and popular location for second homes. The industry employs
some 31,000 people and represents about 8 percent of the state’ GDP,
according to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. n
Home sales and prices
Vermont’s housing market is bucking the trend of rapidly appreciating
home prices that defines many other parts of the country. The median-priced home in the state last year sold for $190,000, according to Vermont
Tax Department data, which is about the same as 2016, when the median
price of a home in the state was $189,000.
Data from Vermont Realtors shows that home sales in the state in 2017
outstripped home sales in 2016 between June and December, but the
pattern was reversed in all but one month between January and May.
Meanwhile, the median sales price for a home in Vermont from January
2016 through May 2018 has bounced around in a narrow range of
between $186,000 and $229,000, with the high mark registered in July
2017. The median home-sales price as of this past May was $218,000.
Home Sales in Vermont
Source: Vermont Realtors
Median sales price 2016
Closed sales 2016
Median sales price 2017
Closed sales 2017
Median sales price 2018
Closed sales 2018
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Nov Oct Dec
2018 President, Vermont Realtors
“I work in a resort market in the southern part of the state.
We’ve seen a very stagnant-to-lowering home-price trend
here for the past nine years. The prices are staying low because
we just have a lot of inventory. The [much larger] Burlington
market, however, has a much lower home inventory than
markets like mine, so you’re going to see an increasing-price
trend up there. … One of the challenges for us in Vermont
is that property taxes are very high. More people than I can
count on one hand who I’ve shown homes to ended up saying
‘You know, we’re going to buy in New Hampshire.’”