State’s $1K signing bonus incentive for people to get back to work starts Monday

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont announced a new incentive last week for those who have been unemployed long-term.

Starting Monday, the first 10,000 long-term unemployed people who get a job will get $1,000 if they stay on the job for two months.

Commissioner of the state Department of Revenue Services Mark Boughton said Connecticut is setting aside federal money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to sponsor the incentives.

“We’ll mail you out a check in about a week, so we’re going to turn around your money quick
and we’re going to send a little congratulatory note with you as well saying that’s awesome,” Boughton said.

Lamont said there are thousands of positions that need to be filled.

“We need you in restaurants. We need you in grocery stores,” Lamont said. “There are a lot of jobs out there.”

This comes at the same time more than a dozen governors in other states plan to end a $300 a week supplemental unemployment program.

Lamont said he doesn’t plan to do the same, but that program is set to expire in September.

Businesses say, so far, they haven’t seen a rise in applicants despite the new incentive.

At Milford Diner, business has been booming since COVID vaccines became widely available.

“Just me and my family can’t keep up with it,” said Samir Elhelou, whose father opened the diner five years ago.

Though customers are pouring in, workers are hard to come by.

“We’re looking for waitstaff and experienced diner line cooks. We want to fill these positions because we obviously have a growing need,” said Elhelou.

He hasn’t seen a rise in interest even after the Governor announced the new signup bonus.

“The applicant pool has been a lot smaller,” said Peter Dodge, co-owner of Edge of the Woods Market on Whalley Avenue in New Haven.

But he’s hopeful.

“As people feel more comfortable, I think it’s going to pick up, and I think it’s a good idea that will bring people back out to jobs again,” said Dodge of the $1,000 incentive.

Some businesses tell News 8 they are offering signing bonuses of their own and increasing wages to compete. Still, the applications are trickling in.

A significant potential applicant pool is the self-employed whose businesses took a hit during the pandemic.

One woman who asked not to be identified because of the stigma of being on unemployment tells us “We want to be back working, it’s just that our businesses were basically taken away from us this past year.” She’s focusing on getting her craft business back up and running rather than taking a job outside her field of expertise.

Still, employers who are hiring hope the new incentive can change minds like hers.

“We’re just looking for solid people to provide good customer service for us,” said Elhelou.

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