As ABC News reports, Covid-19 has definitely increased the number of remote workers in Vermont, bringing pandemic newcomers from the city to Vermont in large numbers. Home sales have skyrocketed. Small towns across the state are reporting increases in the number of students enrolled in K-12 schools. Even the manager of the town dump of Winhall, VT (pop. 789) has noticed the change, as reported by the New York Times.
But remote working certainly isn’t new, and Vermont’s population of “remotes” is always growing. NPR reported recently on several remote workers who moved to the Burlington area years ago and are still at it today.
This influx of new residents is helping to address one of Vermont’s biggest challenges. The Vermont Futures Project predicts that by 2040 Vermont will need at least 10,000 new workers per year to address the typical decreases in workforce due to employees leaving their jobs as they retire or move out of state.
Vermont has sought to address that gap by creating innovative programs designed to encourage people to relocate to Vermont. Hugely popular initiatives like the Remote Worker Grant Program, the New Worker Relocation Grant Program, and Stay to Stay Weekends drew headlines worldwide. But with Covid-19, circumstances have changed and people are also moving to Vermont to keep their families safe and healthy.
Recently the Vermont Futures Project profiled several new Vermonters who arrived here just as the pandemic hit nationwide. Eliza Fitzhugh and Andrés Gutierrez moved to South Burlington so that Eliza could give birth to their first child safely. The slower pace of Vermont attracted the Alford-Braithwaite family to Hinesburg, where Becky Alford’s mother joined them for health reasons just before lockdown. Kiera Bratton-Lewis and Cory Bratton had just barely returned to Brattleboro, where they both grew up, when the pandemic hit, putting their newly opened restaurant on shaky ground. But quick transitioning into a community service endeavor has them feeding their neighbors through the innovative Everyone Eats! program.
As the state and its residents continue the tireless work of suppressing the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, Vermont remains a welcoming place to those looking to call the Green Mountains home.