State jobless claims drop below 100K
For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer than 100,000 Connecticut residents put in weekly claims for unemployment compensation, coinciding with the expiration of enhanced jobless benefits that had been authorized by Congress.
Continuing claims fell 9.8 percent to 91,250 people receiving aid, according to an updated count released Monday by the state Department of Labor. The numbers could fall even more dramatically in the weeks to come; the DOL is still adding up claims for the second week of September, but early figures suggest a sharper decline.
It was an expected development, as schools reopened and the several pandemic unemployment programs reached their end, including a $300 addition to weekly assistance and an allowance for independent contractors to file claims despite not having contributed to state unemployment trust funds.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday the selection of Margeret Keane as as one of two co-chairs for the AdvanceCT initiative to get more companies to expand in Connecticut. Keane is the executive chair of the retail finance giant Synchrony Financial in Stamford. The company continues to have success filling jobs in Stamford and elsewhere, with about 20 openings currently ranging from $60,000 a year to $170,000, she said.
“We’ve always had great talent. With the universities and colleges here in Connecticut, we’ve not had trouble recruiting,” Keane said. “We’re kind of growing with (students) as they are in school — we give them projects, they work for us, and then they get offered opportunities when they come out.”
While school bus drivers returning to the rounds drove a significant portion of the decline in unemployment compensation claims — the larger transportation sector saw filings drop by a third — companies like FedEx have been on a major hiring push to get delivery people in anticipation of holiday online shopping.
The next biggest drop was in education services at 16 percent, likewise the result of schools reopening.
The food and lodging sector saw unemployment claims drop 13 percent, leaving more than 10,400 people out of work who were employed at restaurants, hotels, cafeterias and caterers prior to the pandemic. As of Tuesday morning, full-service restaurants were looking to fill about 5,000 jobs in Connecticut, not including a few thousand more openings at fast-food options like McDonald’s and Dunkin’.
United Natural Foods is at the cross-section of the food and transportation sector, as a distributor to grocery stores and restaurants.
The company has a regional warehouse in Killingly, where it had its headquarters until 2009 when it moved the office to Providence, R.I.
“Our turnover has not slowed. I mean, the work foce has a variety of options and it’s very competitive,” Eric Dorne, chief operating office of United Natural Foods, said on Tuesday. “This is an ongoing problem that we are going to continue to work through.”
President Joe Biden introduced additional uncertainty this month with an order for larger employers to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers or weekly tests for the virus.
That has prompted legal challenges and threats by some to leave their jobs if forced to comply, on the assumption they will land on their feet quickly at companies spared from the mandate due to having fewer than 100 people on the payroll.
About a dozen school bus drivers employed by First Student appeared last week before the conservative caucus of the Connecticut General Assembly to speak out against the mandate, saying it violated their civil rights.
“There’s plenty of bus driver jobs out there,” said Carolyn Patrell, a Bristol driver who has 17 years experience transporting children with special needs in the district. “I don’t think some Joe Schmo off the corner who’s never dealt with children — who doesn’t care and just drives the bus — would make a good bus driver.”