Vermont Governor Phil Scott has signed a bill into law that calls for the state to pay individuals to move there and telecommute to out-of-state work. The program, called the New Remote Worker Grant Program allocates $5,000 per worker per year, and a total of $10,000 per worker over the life of the program.
Funds can be used for purposes such as relocation expenses, computer software and hardware, internet access, or membership in a co-working space.
The Vermont State Legislature allocated $125,000 for the program for the first year it goes into effect, 2019. It allocated $250,000 for 2020, $125,000 for 2021 and then $100,000 for each year beyond that as long as funding remains available.
The program is aimed at shoring up the state’s shrinking tax base. “We recognize the need to recruit people to the state, and this is one of those efforts,” Joan Goldstein, Vermont’s commissioner of economic development told CNN.
The state also launched a “Stay to Stay Weekends” program, which encourages the state’s tourists to relocate there. As part of the weekend package interested individuals meet with potential employers, other Vermonters and state officials who show you around the state and discuss employment or other networking opportunities with you during your stay.
Some 13 million tourists visit the state each year.
Vermont is the latest state to offer potential residents a financial incentive to relocate there, the result of a trend going on for years that has seen young professionals leave small states for big cities. Now those states are facing several economic problems as a result: declining tax revenue and open jobs but no one to fill them.
Hamilton, Ohio is offering new residents $5,000 to help pay your student loans. Grant County, Indiana, will give people who move there $5,000 toward the purchase of a new home. North Platte, a city of about 24,000 in central Nebraska, is offering up to $10,000 to new workers who move there.
The Great Recession of 2007 spurred the movement of younger Americans from rural areas to big cities. Since that time the population of 25 to 54-year-olds (workers in their prime years) has increased by 6% in large metropolitan areas. It stayed the same in small cities and fell in towns and rural areas, however.
In years after the recession the lower population levels didn’t pose a problem; jobs were scarce anyway. But with the economy now running at near-full steam, the problem is unignorable.
The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 3.8%, the lowest it’s been since 2000. Economists predict an unemployment rate of 3.6% by next year, which would make it the lowest in fifty years. A trend that is likely to exacerbate employment-shortage problems.
“Low unemployment rates, everyone thinks of that as a good thing and it is, but there’s a downside,” said Mike Allgrunn, an economist at the University of South Dakota. “Eventually you run out of people to do the work.”
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