Assessing the pandemic’s impact on Vermont communities

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

Statewide reports of rising unemployment and residents in nursing homes especially vulnerable to COVID-19 can cause more questions than answers for Vermont’s communities. How many of our residents are unemployed?  How many live in “group quarters” and are especially at risk of contagious disease like COVID-19? How many of our neighbors experience homelessness or have such high housing costs relative to their incomes that their housing stability is at risk if their income falls?   

This week VHFA released a new dashboard of pandemic impact indicators to help local and state decision makers get answers to questions on community, county and state level effects of COVID-19.

Indicators related to economic distress caused by the pandemic, such as weekly unemployment claims and monthly unemployment rates, already show disparate regional impacts. For example, despite its much smaller population, the Rutland area has nearly the same number of unemployed residents as the Burlington area.  

New unemployment information from the Vermont Department of Labor is added to the dashboard each week. Other sources of town, county and state level information pulled by the dashboard include the latest Census Bureau estimates about at-risk living situations, broadband access from the Vermont Department of Public Service, and direct links to Vermont Department of Health’s latest information on COVID-19 cases.