Katherine Seelye has a remarkable story about the ongoing heroin epidemic in rural Vermont and efforts to combat it. But there’s one piece of background that most of the coverage of the Vermont heroin issue leaves out—the overall Vermont economy.
It’s easy reading stories of rural drug addiction to assume you’re looking at a New England version of a familiar Appalachia-style tale of industrial decline and entrenched poverty. But the unemployment rate in Rutland, Vt., is only 3.9 percent. Vermont as a whole has a 4.2 percent unemployment rate. Vermont has an above-average median income, a below-average poverty rate, and a better-educated population than America as a whole. It’s true that the City of Rutland is poor by Vermont standards, but that’s just to say that its poverty rate equals the national poverty rate.