Unemployment in these 25 CT cities has doubled – or worse

As Connecticut encourages residents to re-enter the workforce, new job estimates show the varying economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic statewide.

The Department of Labor released its annual estimates of unemployment in each Connecticut city averaging over the full 12 months of 2020 and prior years, deriving data from surveys.

The data itself is questionable, given more people who continue to receive unemployment benefits than the official unemployment rate suggests.

Sharon, a town in Litchfield County on the New York border, weathered the COVID-19 pandemic with the lowest annualized unemployment rate among Connecticut’s 169 municipalities at 4.4%. Roxbury fell a step down to 4.6% after leading the state in 2019.

In contrast to the consequences of employment, Norwich has seen decimated employment in its workforce after the extended shutdowns of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casino complexes. The city’s number of unemployed nearly quintupled in a single year to reach 3,500 assisted people in January; its unemployment rate is on average 14% in 2020.

In the last of his regular COVID-19 briefings, Governor Ned Lamont focused most of his remarks on what he called the “measles map” of municipal infection rates for the virus. Throughout the pandemic, Lamont has linked Connecticut’s success in revitalizing the economy to falling infection rates allowing more businesses to return to normal operations.

“Just because we flip a switch and say the restaurants are open doesn’t mean everyone comes in,” Lamont said last week. “They see that the restaurant is paying attention to the [health] protocols; they have some confidence that people not wearing masks have probably been vaccinated. I think slowly people are getting their self-confidence back.

As of May 15, just over 190,000 Connecticut residents were receiving unemployment benefits, including nearly 37,000 self-employed. Employers had posted fewer than 72,000 online help ads as of April, according to the Conference Board.

Lamont spoke of the difficulties that some companies have in bringing workers back to the pay scales they offer. In mid-May, Lamont announced a plan for the state to offer bonuses of $ 1,000 to workers who accept job offers.

In a further boost, starting this week, workers must demonstrate that they are looking for work to be entitled to unemployment benefit. The DOL suspended this requirement during the pandemic, while paying benefits to independent contractors who previously did not qualify.

Unemployment rate estimates and pending claims

Select municipalities with statewide ranks

Unemployment

Continuing complaints

Municipality

2020

2019

Switch

Rank

2020

Switch

Rank

Torrington

8.3

4.1

102%

45

2,064

206%

56

Meriden

8.8

4.3

105%

54

3 358

205%

53

Hamden

6.8

3.3

106%

59

2,621

286%

122

Waterbury

11.6

5.6

107%

68

6 945

195%

43

Greenwich

5.8

2.8

107%

66

1,010

383%

153

Middletown

7.3

3.5

109%

73

2,083

225%

71

Fairfield

6.7

3.2

109%

74

1,685

393%

155

New Havre

8.8

4.2

110%

76

6,329

260%

108

Bristol

8.6

4.1

110%

77

3,443

209%

60

Hartford

13.3

6.3

111%

85

8 346

237%

81

New Britain

10.8

5.1

112%

88

4 817

219%

69

Shelton

7.8

3.6

117%

105

1,831

231%

73

Wallingford

6.5

3.0

117%

108

1,920

282%

118

West Haven

8.6

3.9

121%

116

2 914

296%

131

Stratford

9.3

4.2

121%

118

2,683

240%

84

West Hartford

6.0

2.7

122%

121

2,023

330%

145

Bridgeport

11.9

5.3

125%

131

8,861

196%

45

Milford

7.5

3.3

127%

134

2 399

311%

138

Hartford East

10.4

4.5

131%

144

3,480

245%

87

Manchester

8.4

3.6

133%

148

3 151

287%

123

Danbury

7.3

3.1

135%

150

3 101

247%

91

Norwalk

8.1

3.2

153%

158

4,028

315%

140

Stamford

8.1

3.2

153%

159

5 149

352%

150

New London

13.3

4.8

177%

165

1,829

316%

141

Norwich

14.0

3.9

259%

169

3 507

475%

168

Connecticut

7.9

3.6

119%

169,954

246%

Source: Connecticut Department of Labor data


The pandemic has had different impacts among industries and municipalities with higher concentrations of workers in some of these occupations.

Among Connecticut’s 25 largest municipalities, Greenwich’s 5.8 percent unemployment rate edged West Hartford for the state’s 2020 low. Greenwich is home to a large number of affluent white-collar workers who have worked remotely for the pandemic.

Stamford’s rate of 8.1% was the lowest among the five towns with at least 100,000 inhabitants. But Stamford ranked among the last handful of municipalities in the state by another key measure – rising unemployment from 2019, before COVID-19 triggered mass layoffs as businesses were forced to shut down their jobs. local. The DOL calculated that Stamford’s unemployment rate rose to 1.5 times its level of 3.2% in 2019.

And Stamford has seen a 350 percent increase in the actual number of city residents receiving unemployment compensation, as reported by the DOL, among the 20 biggest jumps in the state (Greenwich also saw a big increase).

Thomas Madden, head of economic development under Stamford Mayor David Martin, said this directly reflected office closures across the city, as businesses shifted on the fly to remote working arrangements during the pandemic.

This had a direct impact on restaurants and nearby staff who take care of construction services such as cleaning and security, many of these workers living in Stamford.

“You have a lot of family and pop businesses and cleaning people that were affected when the offices closed,” Madden said. “I have spoken to a lot of companies and they have now increased when they bring people back. Now [the] the cafeteria is open, security personnel are expanding and jobs are coming back.

Litchfield County topped the list of cities with the least disruption to employment in the first calendar year of the pandemic, looking at rankings on both the DOL Unemployment Survey and the city-by-city totals DOL separately reports its census of continuing unemployment claims.

And of Connecticut’s 25 largest cities, Torrington does the best in both rankings, edging out Waterbury and Meriden in northern New Haven County.

Scott Gottlieb, a former Food & Drug Administration chief who lives in Westport, joined Lamont at last week’s web conference to address a range of topics, including the economic ramifications for the state amid reluctance persistent by some who even consider a low risk of infection “a risk they do not necessarily want to take” by resuming their normal activities.

“When we implemented mitigation, we didn’t shut down the state – we took a very targeted approach focusing on sites and settings that could be sources of spread,” Gottlieb said. . “It hit some businesses hard. … [and] some people were disproportionately affected by mitigation.

[email protected]; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


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About Ray Coulombe

Ray Coulombe

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