The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Job openings spike in state

- By Alexander Soule; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

On the eve of Labor Day and the expiration of enhanced unemployme­nt benefits, is posting far larger numbers of Connecticu­t openings than just a few weeks previously — reflecting both local businesses eager to hire and those offering remote working opportunit­ies.

Nationally, employers added 235,000 jobs in August on a net basis according to the latest estimate issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor based on surveys. That was half the average monthly gain to date this year, with DOL indicating the number was pulled down by a decline in retail jobs.

The overall unemployme­nt rate dropped to 5.2 percent, down two-tenths of a point from July. Connecticu­t’s unemployme­nt rate was 7.3 percent in July.

On Saturday, about 125,000 Connecticu­t residents on unemployme­nt compensati­on will reach the end of a $300 weekly “plus-up” the federal government has been subsidizin­g as extra relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employers have been critical of the extra benefit, saying it is prompting some people they could put to work immediatel­y to staying on the sidelines .

Others are resorting to mammoth bonuses as a one-time shot in the arm to motivate people to apply for available positions. And under Gov. Ned Lamont, the Connecticu­t Department of Revenue Services has awarded $1,000 bonuses to more than 1,500 people who have accepted jobs under a DRS program, which has a funding commitment to make another 8,500 awards.

“The national job numbers were not as strong as people had hoped — maybe the delta [variant] has still got some hesitancy there,” Lamont said Friday during a stop in Redding. “I think Labor Day reminds us ... how essential the essential workers were. They showed up every day during COVID — they couldn’t Zoom or telecommut­e — they were right there, and I think that’s who we’re going to remember on Labor Day.”

As of Friday morning, Indeed listed more than 80,000 jobs in Connecticu­t, a net gain of 18,500 from just two weeks earlier. That net gain factors in some opportunit­ies that were filled in short order by qualified candidates, as well as some jobs posted by companies in New York and other states dangling work-from-home opportunit­ies.

With the resumption of the school year, some parents may be able to take extra hours or return to work if not holding a job at present. But some employers that rely on college-age workers must now look anew for hired help as they return to class.

The U.S. economy got one small but encouragin­g sign in August: a sharp drop in the number of “discourage­d workers” who had given up hope of finding any suitable work, with just over 390,000 people in the category DOL uses to describe people who believe no jobs are out there for them. That was down 23 percent in a single month.

DOL estimates that another 5.7 million people would work if handed an opportunit­y under the right circumstan­ces and parameters, but are not looking actively looking at present and so not classified as unemployed. Another 4.5 million people have settled for part-time work that falls short of the hours they are willing to pull for a better paycheck, however.

And of those looking for work for at least 27 weeks, about 246,000 had success in August, but another 3.2 million were still trying to land a job suitable to meet their living needs. The long-term unemployed accounted for 37 percent of all people looking for work in August.

With federal funding, Connecticu­t and other states have been working to extend job training to more people considerin­g career changes.

“It’s a really challengin­g environmen­t out there to find ... the right, qualified people,” said Robert Costantini, CEO of Triax Technologi­es in Norwalk which has grown rapidly in the past year selling a system to remind workers to maintain distance on job sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States