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The sustainably fossil-fueled Vermont economy

Michigan leads in net outmigration, at -7.9 percent of population; while Utah shows a +0.5 percent. Vermont shows a +0.2 percent, caused by, I'd guess, passive-income in-migrants slightly out-numbering active-income out-migrants, but ALEC doesn't differentiate.

In Table 6, Net Domestic Migration, the authors report on the large population gains for Florida and Arizona, the middling gains for Tennessee and Colorado, the small losses for Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the large flight from California and New York, but doesn't segregate by active vs. passive income. You can easily guess.

Consider the middle-class, working-age flight from California and Vermont. These are well-known patterns, the reverse of the retiree flow pattern into Florida and Arizona, but we don't know and can't guess the make-up, for example, of the north-to-south pattern of the shrinkage in the former Rust-Belt State numbers and the expansion in the former Appalachia. For a really good indicator, I'd propose the general direction of state K-12 enrollments.

These are all posted in the annual National Digest of Educational Statistics, a your-tax-dollars-at-work annual Federal publication, which you're not encouraged to look into by 49 of the 50 state education departments (Nebraska excepted) because its pages contain the annual NAEP test scores, and not the hired (easier) tests deployed by each of the 49 to show how "proficient" their charges have become under their tutelage. In the just-received 2009 NDES, table 34, you can see the enrollment pattern, 1990 to 2007, for each state.

Vermont is down by about ten percent from 105 thousand to 95 thousand. Wyoming is down similarly, from 98 to 87 thousand, and, I'd guess, for similar reasons: a growing passive income sector, job decline (in different sectors) and departure of active-income-earning young adults who, curiously, take their children with them when leaving. Wyoming has no business-hostility reputation: when Energy User News published its regulatory climate rankings, Wyoming typically got an A or B. WY ranks at 6 in Economic Outlook in the ALEC study, compared to Vermont's 49.

I'd guess, but don't know, that as a small-population state that could, like Vermont, adopt unspoken policies and behaviors to welcome and enlarge a passive-income economy, it doesn't want to. In fact, it ranks no. 1 among all 51 jurisdictions for Growth in Personal Income per Capita.

Final irony: both state economies, present or future, build on a fossil-fuel foundation: old energy, domestic or imported, stored in different forms and now being retrieved and spent. More on this interesting set of comparisons soon.

Retired Vermont architect Martin Harris observes Green Mountain State politics from a safe distance-Tennessee.

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