As Unemployment Remains Double Pre-Pandemic Levels, Businesses Struggle to Hire Workers

“I’ve never seen so many ‘We’re Hiring’ signs,” said Mel Goggin, owner of Mel’s Downtown Creamery, which has locations in Pawcatuck and Colchester.  Her ice cream shops should be rearing up for a busy, eventful summer, but they’ve run into a roadblock reported by many Connecticut small businesses: hiring. Goggin said she’s struggled to hire enough workers to operate her creameries, with job postings languishing online getting few relevant responses. Even their ice cream supplier is struggling to find workers, leaving “a lot of flavors out of stock” in her creameries. While Goggin said she’d love to offer higher wages

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Bipartisan Deal on Unemployment to Address $712 Million Debt

After more than half a million Connecticut residents lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund was in need of financial assistance. Over the course of the current recession, Connecticut has borrowed more than $712 million, a debt that will need to be repaid with interest.  These problems have existed long before the pandemic. Connecticut had to borrow $1.25 billion during the Great Recession, and the trust fund has been insolvent for 48 of the last 50 years.  Gov. Ned Lamont, alongside leaders from business, labor and the legislature, announced a bipartisan proposal to bring

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Rise in Unemployment to 8.5% Triggers Added Benefit for Thousands in Connecticut

Thousands of people collecting unemployment benefits in Connecticut will have them for an additional seven weeks as the state’s three-month average unemployment rate rose above 8 percent in February. About 28,000 people filing for state extended unemployment benefits will be eligible for seven additional weeks of benefits. The Connecticut Department of Labor said in a news release that it will let those eligible know about the extension. “High Extended Benefits will infuse millions of dollars into households and the economy as both recover from the pandemic,” Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in the release. “Over the past year, CTDOL has

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Lawmakers Open Hearing on Legislation to Ease Workers’ Comp Claims for COVID-19

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In July of last year, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order establishing a presumption of eligibility for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19. This meant that employees required to work in person during the height of the pandemic, from March 10 to May 20, who contracted COVID-19 would be presumed to have contracted the virus at work, making them eligible for workers’ compensation.  Employers could still contest a claim, but the executive order ostensibly helped essential workers access deserved benefits in the midst of a pandemic, when substantiating a claim of an infection in the workplace would be especially

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Lamont Announces Retroactive Expansion of Benefits for 38,000 Unemployed

Gov. Ned Lamont announced the signing of an executive order Friday morning expanding unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.  The order directs the state Department of Labor to expand eligibility for the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program to Connecticut residents who previously did not qualify.  The federal program, which added a supplemental $300 weekly to benefits for Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only applied to workers who had a minimum benefit of $100 per week.  While 160,000 state residents received supplemental benefits, 38,000 others who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic received

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Job Gains, But Mixed Economic Picture as Connecticut Heads into Cooler Months

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Employment data released yesterday by the Department of Labor show that while Connecticut continues to regain jobs lost during the pandemic, the overall economic picture remains mixed according to a variety of industry officials. The 17,000 non-farming jobs gained in September is less than in previous months. The state saw the resurgence of a total of 21,900 non-farming jobs in August and 32,300 jobs in July.  Additionally, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places Connecticut’s employment rate at 7.8 percent, down from 8.1 percent in August, the Office of Research at the Connecticut Department of Labor said this is

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With the Minimum Wage to Increase to $12 on Sept. 1, Elected Officials and Business Owners Debate Possible Delay

Connecticut’s minimum wage is set to increase from $11 to $12 per hour on September 1.  The change is the result of a 2019 bill which increases the minimum wage by $1 per hour every 11 months until it reaches $15 per hour. September 1 will mark the second increase of five. The next increase is scheduled for August 1, 2021, when the minimum wage will increase to $13 per hour.  Advocates say that this wage increase is critical for minimum wage workers who are struggling to pay their living expenses. The unexpected and nearly unprecedented loss of revenue due

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A Closer Look at as much as $7.8 Billion in Subsidies to Connecticut Businesses

Businesses in a range of industries across Connecticut say the federal Paycheck Protection Program helped them keep staff employed as they weathered declining revenues in the early months of the response to COVID-19. Congress authorized the Paycheck Protection Program in March as part of a relief package known as the CARES Act. It’s a loan for small businesses, employing fewer than 500 workers, to cover up to eight weeks of payroll costs, which can be forgiven if the company retains its staff and payroll. As part of the program, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved 4.88 million loans totaling

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Unemployment by the Numbers

In a typical week unemployment claims statewide for Connecticut sit at about 2,000. In the second week of March that number tripled. In the third week, new claims reached an all-time high of 78,304. But these claims also reflect complex economies and the disparate impacts of efforts to the slow the spread of COVID-19 as they are felt across categories of age, gender, education, industry and location. Those in the beginning of their career, between 20 and 29, have been hit the hardest by layoffs and furloughs across the state. Typically, an equal proportion of claims are filed by those

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Department of Labor Processes $13.8 Million in Self-Employment Benefits in First 24 Hours

Within the first 24 hours of the self-employed unemployment insurance system launch, the Connecticut Department of Labor processed 6,419 claims and $13.8 million in benefits. The new system opened on Thursday May 7, after more than six weeks of delays. “We are very pleased with the system and its performance,” said Nancy Steffens, spokesperson for the Department of Labor. “Those filers that requested direct deposit will have benefits deposited to their bank accounts in three business days and those requesting debit card will find the benefits loaded to their cards when they receive them in the mail.” The $13.8 million

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Connecticut Struggles to Provide Promised Unemployment Benefits to the State’s Self-Employed

On March 29, after two weeks out of work, Chris Read applied for unemployment benefits. Today, more than five weeks later, his application has yet to be accepted and his rainy day funds are almost out. “I haven’t worked in seven weeks and I am self-employed. This is just the end of my rope,” said Read, a carpet installer in southeastern Connecticut. “I feel hung out to dry here.” At the end of March, Read, like many other self-employed individuals across the state, were told that for the first time that they would be able to apply for unemployment benefits

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