The ins and outs of commuting: About half the workers in Lamoille County leave the area for jobs elsewhere every morning, but about half of the jobs within the county are held by people who commute here.
That was one takeaway from the annual meeting of the Lamoille Economic Development Corp., held Oct. 17 in Hyde Park.
“There’s a good balance of people coming in and going out,” said Mathew Barewicz, an analyst with the Vermont Department of Labor.
There’s a whole new type of concern in the current economy, where “unemployment is at record lows,” said Steve Clokey, marketing director at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, speaking for the development corporation’s board of directors. He said that, in the 1970s and 1980s, you were lucky if you could find work in Vermont, and took jobs that paid $3 or $4 an hour to get by.
Now, it’s employers who can’t find people to come work for them.
Workforce development is today’s theme, said John Mandeville, executive director of the economic development group.
“I live it and eat and sleep it, and sometimes don’t sleep” because of it, Mandeville said.
Barewicz painted a picture of the local job market that is familiar to most, but with some surprising finds. He used the Green Mountain Technical and Career Center’s reach in defining the region — fitting, since the meeting Oct. 17 took place at the tech center. That region also dips a little into the Hardwick area.
In this region, Barewicz said, there are 13,879 jobs. More than a quarter of those, 26.4 percent, are in the hotel and food services sector. Not surprising, since Stowe has dozens of lodging facilities and even more restaurants and bars.
Health and social services make up 14.4 percent of the job market. Here, one looks to Morrisville, with its myriad organizations, health care facilities and government agencies for those types of jobs.
Rounding out the top five are retail trade (13.1 percent), education (10.5 percent) and construction (6.3 percent).
In another data set, Barewicz looked at those job categories differently, in how the concentration of certain jobs compared with the rest of the state.
For instance, jobs in the hotel and food service sector are 2.5 times more concentrated in this area than the rest of the state — again, likely thanks to Stowe, which has more liquor licenses, per capita, than any other community in Vermont.
But agriculture and mining jobs (Barewicz said the Labor Department publishes those sectors together to protect employer confidentiality) are also more prevalent in Lamoille County than the rest of the state. Even though that sector makes up only 2 percent of the local job market, you’re more than 150 percent more likely to find those kinds of jobs than in the state as a whole.
On the other hand, despite the success of places like Morristown’s Concept 2 and MSI, manufacturing jobs are about 50 percent less concentrated in this region when compared to the rest of the state.
Barewicz said there’s a glimmer of hope in the Lamoille County area that might surprise people: its youthful population. In a state that keeps getting older each year — “We are a significant importer of college-age students and an exporter of post-college” workers, Barewicz said — Lamoille bucks the trend, at least a bit.
He called it and Franklin County “a pipeline of youth.”
“Lamoille County is well-positioned,” he said. “There is a youth push, even though it might not seem it.”
Bill Stritzler, owner of Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Cambridge, was honored at the annual meeting for his contributions to Lamoille County.
Stritzler was given The Manosh Lifetime Achievement Award, named after Hyde Park businessman Howard Manosh.
Clokey said Smuggs employs close to 1,000 people, and Stritzler sources products and services locally. He said Stritzler hasn’t lived his whole life here, but he “certainly has done more in Lamoille County than other people who have lived a lifetime here.”
In accepting the award, Stritzler poked fun at the idea of his employee, “Cloke,” handing out the award, saying, “that explains a lot to you.”
Said Stritzler, “I love living in this community, and I’m so proud to be a part of Lamoille County and all the great people I have an opportunity to work with here.”