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BLS Releases February 2020 Employment Situation (Mar. 2020)


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 273,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, government, construction, professional and technical services, and financial activities.

Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 57,000 in February. Health care added 32,000 jobs, with gains in offices of physicians (+10,000), home health care services (+10,000), and hospitals (+8,000). Employment in social assistance increased by 25,000, with a majority of the gain in individual and family services (+18,000). Over the past 12 months, employment increased by 368,000 in health care and by 191,000 in social assistance.   Food services and drinking places added 53,000 jobs in February. Employment in the industry has increased by 252,000 over the past 7 months, following a lull in job growth earlier in 2019.

In February, government employment increased by 45,000, led by a gain in state government education (+16,000). Federal employment increased by 8,000, reflecting the hiring of 7,000 temporary workers for the 2020 Census.   Construction added 42,000 jobs in February, following a similar gain in January (+49,000). In 2019, job gains averaged 13,000 per month. In February, employment gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+26,000) and residential building (+10,000). 

In February, employment in professional and technical services increased by 32,000. Job growth occurred in architectural and engineering services (+10,000) and in scientific research and development services (+5,000). Employment continued to trend up in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). Over the past 12 months, professional and technical services has added 285,000 jobs.   Employment in financial activities increased by 26,000 in February, with gains in real estate (+8,000) and in credit intermediation and related activities (+6,000). Over the past 12 months, financial activities has added 160,000 jobs.  Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information, changed little over the month.

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents to $28.52. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.0 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 8 cents to $23.96 in February.

The full BLS press release on the February 2020 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:

The next employment situation report for March 2020 is scheduled to be released on Friday, April 3, 2020. 



Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Year 2019, Second Estimate (Mar. 2020)


Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP also increased 2.1 percent. The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, federal government spending, exports, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment.  imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.  Real GDP growth in the fourth quarter was the same as that in the third. In the fourth quarter, a downturn in imports and an acceleration in government spending were offset by a larger decrease in private inventory investment and a slowdown in PCE.


Economic Contributions of the Captive Insurance Industry in Vermont (Feb. 2020)


At the January 22, 2020, Vermont Captive Insurance Association Legislative Day, Jeff Carr presented selected findings on the Economic Contributions of the Captive Insurance Industry in Vermont.  The study was produced as part of a cooperative effort between EPR, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulations, and the Vermont Captive Insurance Association, and was conducted in order to provide a baseline of statistics to inform policy making efforts.  The presentation (linked below) highlighted the study’s significant findings on the amount and type of economic activity which occurred due to the operations of the Vermont Captive Insurance Industry within the state during calendar year 2018.  The study served as an update to the previous economic impact study conducted by EPR in the mid-2000’s. 

Based on data collected from Vermont firms which operate with the industry, Captive Insurance in Vermont contributes a total of 936 full-time and part-time jobs, $66.93 million in labor income, $158.43 million to State GDP, and $26.13 million of total Captive Insurance Premium Tax and License and Exam Fee revenues.  This accounting includes the economic contribution from the 2,679 overnight visitors and 1,784 day visitors travelling to and within the State in order to conduct Captive Insurance-related business.

For more information on the study itself and its findings, please contact Ian Davis, Director of Financial Services at the Vermont Department 0f Economic Development.


Secretary of Administration Susanne Young Releases Vermont's Revenue Results for January 2020 (Feb. 2020)


Administration Secretary Susanne Young released revenue results for the State of Vermont on February 21, 2020 for the month of January and the first seven months of Vermont’s 2020 fiscal year.  Results across all three funds got the first month of the second half of the State’s fiscal year to a good start—with only the part of the Education Fund that falls under the consensus revenue forecasting process slightly under-performing versus consensus cash flow expectations.  General Fund revenues collected for the month totaled $178.71 million, 2.39% or $4.18 million above the monthly consensus revenue target, which has been updated to reflect the annual consensus revenue forecast adopted by the Emergency Board on January 16, 2020.   According to the Secretary, “…Revenues in the State’s Transportation Fund tracked at  $0.82 million, or 3.75%, above expectations for the month, bringing in $22.63 million.  Higher than anticipated collections in motor vehicle purchase and use taxes and motor vehicle fees offset underperformance in fuel tax collections.”  Revenue receipts in the Education Fund “…were -$0.17 million, or -0.29%, below its monthly target, having collected $58.46 million for the month. Higher than anticipated collections in motor vehicle purchase and use and meals and room taxes offset slight underperformance in sales and use tax collections,” according to Secretary Young.       

“While we are pleased with these results relative to our updated revenue forecast in January, no conclusions should be drawn based on one month of data, especially at the beginning of tax season. Tax receipts and refunds that occur through the end of April will provide a better indication of how we are likely to finish the fiscal year compared to forecast,” concluded Secretary Young in the Agency of Administration’s regular monthly release of State revenue receipts.


BLS Releases January 2020 Consumer Price Index (Feb. 2020)


The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0.2 percent in December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The index for shelter accounted for the largest part of the increase in the seasonally adjusted all items index, with the indexes for food and for medical care services also rising. These increases more than offset a decrease in the gasoline index, which fell 1.6 percent in January. The energy index declined 0.7 percent, and the major energy component indexes were mixed. The index for food rose 0.2 percent in January with the indexes for both food at home and food away from home increasing over the month.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in January after increasing 0.1 percent in December. Along with the indexes for shelter and medical care, the indexes for apparel, recreation, education, and airline fares all increased in January. The indexes for used cars and trucks, prescription drugs, motor vehicle insurance, and household furnishings and operations were among those to decline.

The all items index increased 2.5 percent for the 12 months ending January, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending October 2018. The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent over the last 12 months, the same 12-month increase as reported in the previous 3 months. The food index rose 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index increased 6.2 percent over that period.

The BLS Release can be read by clicking the pdf below. 

Next release is Wednesday, March 11, 2020, for the February 2019 Consumer Price Index.


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