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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Where have all the young people gone?

11/21/2007

By Kara Herlihy

The Valley is lacking young people, and it's noticeable. The youth deficit here, in a seasonable resort community, speaks to a larger, statewide trend -- where young Vermonters are in a mass exodus and headed for greener pastures. 

Vermont's youth population seems to have high-tailed it for lands of plenty, instead of making a go of it in their home state. It is the result of a multitude of factors with affordable housing most likely in the driver's seat.  

Where have young Vermonters gone? The likely answer is large metropolitan areas where rent is cheaper, entry-level jobs are plentiful, and there are social opportunities for the younger, unmarried contingency.

With environmental development laws cast in stone and a serious lack of corporate centers for well-paying jobs, the trend seems to indicate that they're not coming back anytime soon.

While Vermont prides itself on its large number of small, family-owned businesses, there aren't enough to outweigh the low-paying service-oriented jobs that dominate the seasonal economy. Vermont is expensive, and the price residents pay for local authenticity is not affordable to those who are just starting out -- not even close.

Sadly, Vermont has become an unattainable image of 'someday' in the rear-view mirrors of Vermont's most valuable export -- the kids.

The problem is large in scope. It isn't just a problem reserved for 20-somethings, it's an economic crisis brought on by a diminishing workforce and an influx of retirees that will soon increase exponentially with the aging baby boomers.

This is the first of a series of articles where The Valley Reporter will examine low-paying jobs, high-priced (second) homes and the impacts of high-priced commodities and services which Valley residents hold dear.

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