A collision of social forces, some related to Covid-19, has prompted a wave of migration into Vermont this year.
While nobody knows for sure how many people have moved to the state over the past several months, University of Vermont research on new remote workers shows that this group is overwhelmingly young and gainfully employed. And they’re choosing to live in some of the state’s long-neglected rural areas.
UVM’s Center for Research on Vermont distributed surveys through a dozen state and local outlets and on social media this summer in its search for data about new remote workers.
According to preliminary survey findings, 64% fit into a demographic that the state, in its own efforts to attract residents, has been targeting: people who are still in the workforce.
Data from 222 responses shows that 40% of the new arrivals are under 35, 24% are ages 36 to 50, and 35% are 51 and older.
About half of the new remote workers have completed college, and another 42% of them have a degree beyond college. Almost half said their employer would allow them to stay. And a full 70% described their location as “rural” or “very rural.”
Richard Watts, the director of the Center for Research on Vermont, said the findings show people are looking for places that are removed from Covid-19 hotspots and from the civil unrest associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Meanwhile, large companies like Google, Facebook, Barclays, and JP Morgan Chase have said it’s unlikely most of their workers will ever return to the office. Covid-19 has been the catalyst for a move to remote work that could potentially free up millions of workers to leave cities and suburbs for rural areas.
“There is big potential at this moment in time for Vermont and other places that are perceived to be safe,” said Watts.