In a now pretty much vanished Vermont, it was the practice of politicos to explain (slowly, of course, with an analogy even we could handle with some effort) that the state’s economy was like a three-legged milking stool, blissfully unaware, apparently, that the stool had gone out when vacuum-pump milking came in, quite a few terms-in-office (and no time-in-the-barn) earlier.
The three legs were agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism: A-M-T.
There was, during the Hoff years, an effort to make education an economically serious fourth leg. It was aborted.
There are still occasional, and now quite inaccurate, references to the A-M-T economy, but mostly, the new intelligentsia now prefers a Venn diagram to a wood stool. Now the three overlapping circles are E-S-E or environment, society, and economy.
The Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis isn’t yet into such Venn diagrams or such tri-partite subdivisions of Gross State Product, and its 2010 breakdown of Vermont’s $26 Billion GSP (50 of the 50 states in total GSP, 34 of the 50 in GSP per capita) suggests a new three-legged stool. You might call it G-M-R.
First, at over $3 billion, the state and local government category, now the largest leg.
Second, in durable- and-non-durable categories, totaling near $3 billion, is manufacturing.
Third, well below $3 billion, is real estate.
If you take the tourism as the sum of the present accommodations and food services plus arts, entertainment, and recreation, that now non leg is near $1.5 billion.
Vermont agriculture, now a non leg at less than $.4 billion, is now a smaller fraction of GDP at 1.6 percent than administrative and waste services (no comment by your Humble Scribe on that pairing) at more than $.4 billion and 1.9 percent.
Two governmental or quasi-governmental categories not counted withinsState and local government are health care and social assistance at over $2 billion and 9.4 percent, and educational services at almost $.5 billion and 2.1 percent.
Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.