State's jobless rate dips below 4 percent; lawmakers, governor look to stimulate economy


News that Vermont's unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in February capped an uneven week on the economic front.

The announcement of the decrease from 4 percent in January continues a five-month downward trend, but the news came the same week state leaders learned 80 jobs would be lost in Lyndonville.

Gov. Peter Shumlin cautiously celebrated the news Friday shortly after the jobless numbers were released by the Vermont Department of Labor.

Pending layoffs were confirmed Tuesday at Kennametal in Lyndonville, a precision manufacturing plant that will close by the end of June. That news came one month after Plasan announced it would move from Bennington to Michigan in May. Still more layoffs are pending at IBM in Essex Junction.

Shumlin credited the state for being on the right track, but emphasized that there's "more work to do."

Thursday, Shumlin held a news conference to showcase some of that work - access to loans for startup companies, more downtown tax credits to encourage "smart growth," advances in the state's financial services and insurance sectors and more.

His gathering aligned with passage of the Senate's signature economic development bill, S.220. The legislation was conceived as comprehensive stimulant for the state's economy. It touched housing, education, manufacturing, tourism, startups and more.


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