You'll pay us to move to Vermont!

Population density in Vermont.

Population density in Vermont.

From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

Something that used to surprise me a bit after the advent of the full-frontal Internet since the ‘90s is that the ability to work remotely has not hollowed out cities. Instead, big American cities have drawn increasing numbers of younger workers who are working on computers all day.  You might think that more of them would want to live in beautiful countryside.

Such as in Vermont, which is trying to bribe some workers with up to $10,000 to move to the Green Mountain State, from which they’d work remotely for an out-of-state company. The Boston Globe reports:

“To qualify, workers must be employed full time with a company based outside Vermont, and move to the Green Mountain State on or after January 1, 2019. The worker must also perform most duties from a Vermont home office or co-working space. The state will then issue grants to newly minted Vermonters up to $5,000 per year for two years for things like moving expenses, Internet access, or a computer.’’

The offer sounds very much like a pilot plan, since it’s capped at only a total of $125,000 for 2019, with grants to be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The main idea, of course, is to draw in more young people, including those who might want to grow a business in the state. Vermont has long had among the lowest unemployment rates in America, but has for years been among the three or four states with the oldest population. Policymakers worry about how to ensure long-term economic growth and how to lure and keep a large enough percentage of younger people to pay taxes to maintain the state’s good social services.

I think that the joys of working remotely have been overstated. Most people want daily, in-person interactions with co-workers, and many, especially the young, prefer the energy of a big city to the most beautiful quiet landscape.

In any event, little Vermont can’t afford to pay many folks to move to Vermont. But some refugees from city jobs will find Burlington’s rather hip charms, and view of the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain, suffice for urbanity.

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