I remember renting a home in South Burlington back in 1987 for $650 per month. That was pretty steep back then even though I was earning $9 per hour (which was a decent wage in 1987). Anyway, I eventually ended up taking a 10 year job with UPS for a $11 per hour as a starting driver. Back then, loading trucks was $9 per hour. Fairly good wages especially for the Northeast Kingdom where a really nice house could be purchased for $50,000 or so.
Fast forward to 2007. I believe UPS (and FedEx) are still paying $9 per hour (in Chittenden County) for loading trucks. I recently noticed a morning maintenance job at a local McDonalds for $10 per hour. A scan through a job website for high-tech jobs brought up a computer support position in Williston for a whopping $11 to $15 per hour. Meanwhile, the prices for a single family home have tripled or even quadrupled since 1987. Utilities have also at least tripled and gas prices, well ’nuff said.
So how does anyone make a living in Vermont these days? It just doesn’t make sense. Wages are at 1987 levels or slightly above while everything else is in the stratosphere. I noticed in the Free Press that crime is up in Vermont, particularly drug related crimes. Nice.
In 1997, the Sunday edition of the Burlington Free Press used to be loaded with good paying tech jobs. Companies like IBM were so busy that recruitment firms (or headhunters) used to do all the hiring for the positions. Now, it seems those jobs are mostly outsourced overseas. Now, the Sunday paper is full of service jobs at local hotels, banks and other low paying companies. Not much left for manufacturing jobs either and the temporary IBM jobs at $10.50 per hour are more insulting than inviting.
Vermont is becoming a very difficult and unaffordable place to live for middle class families. I can remember hearing years ago that someday, Vermont would become a playground for the rich. One look at Stowe, Woodstock, Manchester and now most of Chittenden County certainly confirms that. Worse yet, places like the Northeast Kingdom with annually high unemployment are also becoming unaffordable for native Vermonters.
Pretty sad really and it looks like it’s only going to get worse instead of better.
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