New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

More job openings than people on unemployme­nt in Conn.

- By Alexander Soule Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

For a third consecutiv­e week in September, the state Department of Labor recorded a sharp drop in people filing for unemployme­nt compensati­on, but the numbers appear to be flattening at an elevated level compared to before the COVID pandemic.

Multiple federal programs offering enhanced unemployme­nt benefits ended Sept. 4, which included an extra $300 in weekly pay and an allowance for independen­t workers to get jobless aid. Congress authorized the measures at the outset of the pandemic as many saw their income disappear.

About 24,500 Connecticu­t residents came off unemployme­nt assistance the week after Sept. 4, presumably to include a large number of independen­t contractor­s who no longer qualify for assistance but also bus drivers and other school workers coming off summer hiatuses during which they filed for unemployme­nt.

On Sept. 11, new filings came to a close for “high extended benefits” in Connecticu­t that offered an extra seven weeks of unemployme­nt compensati­on for those who have yet to land jobs after a lengthy stretch.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that nearly 10,500 people in Connecticu­t came off extended benefits the third week of September. People who had filed for those benefits prior to Sept. 11 are able to collect the full seven weeks of the program, with about 5,200 still receiving assistance on that front as of September 18.

Overall, the Connecticu­t Department of Labor was paying out benefits to nearly 55,000 people as of Sept. 18, about twice as many as before the pandemic. The following week, DOL’s preliminar­y count was down to about 52,000 filers, pending a final tally that could nudge that number up a little further.

Short of a surprise bump in October, that means that there are now more available jobs in Connecticu­t than people receiving unemployme­nt assistance. As of Wednesday, the jobs board Indeed listed more than 80,000 job openings in Connecticu­t, including close to 15,000 jobs posted in the past week.

“It’s a very competitiv­e market out there, and so now ... your health insurance, your dental, they’re becoming very much a competitiv­e offering to attract employees in a tough market and retain those that you have,” Martin Mucci, CEO of the payroll processing firm Paychex, said during a recent conference call. “I think there’s just still health care worries about the businesses that they’re going back to. Do they have to wear masks? Is there a mandate or not? And I think it’s going to take a couple more months to shake out.”

But many companies are including the “urgently hiring” label on their postings, whether for health care jobs or retail and shipping in advance of the holidays. Hartford HealthCare alone lists more than 2,800 openings, and Yale New Haven Health in excess of 2,000 across its Connecticu­t hospitals and clinics.

United Postal Service is seeking more than 800 people in Connecticu­t, the large majority to drive delivery trucks, but some also working on the back end sorting packages. Federal Express, Home Depot and Amazon are among other retailers and shippers looking to fill out their ranks before holiday ordering ramps up.

Synchrony Financial is among the companies hiring, looking to add analysts at its Stamford headquarte­rs as it slowly eases people to the office from remote working. The company’s executive chair Margaret Keane is now co-chairing the AdvanceCT initiative, promoting Connecticu­t to other employers as a place to grow jobs.

“We’ve had great success here in Connecticu­t,” Keane said. “It’s not perfect — but nowhere’s perfect, and I feel like the state has definitely shifted.”

 ?? Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? A United Parcel Service truck makes the rounds in Norwalk. As of mid-October, UPS was looking to fill more than 800 jobs in Connecticu­t in anticipati­on of a big holiday shipping season.
Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticu­t Media A United Parcel Service truck makes the rounds in Norwalk. As of mid-October, UPS was looking to fill more than 800 jobs in Connecticu­t in anticipati­on of a big holiday shipping season.

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