WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — As Connecticut’s jobless claims continue to grow beyond anything in the state’s recent memory due to coronavirus shutdowns, small businesses and workers around the state are anxious to see what the State’s new bailout means for them.
The Department of Labor said Wednesday the unemployment application numbers are now at 20 times the usual average. The unprecedented numbers have caused an unheard of three week backlog in responding to applications.
In regular press briefings, the Connecticut DOL has tried to reassure workers who are anxious for help.
“The comfort that we’re able to offer is, you can file your claim and submit it. Yes, there will be a delay but you have submitted your claim, you have secured your opportunity, your insurance, and when we get to it, and it will be as fast as we possibly can, you will be made retro,” said DOL Deputy Commissioner Daryle Dudzinski.
Their steady appeals to employers—to keep workers on the payroll—appear to be working.
“Many, many companies have filed with our shared work plans so they have a reduction in hours to keep their employees employed on a part time basis, and we can also pay them partial unemployment,” said Dudzinski.
To ease the pressure felt by employers and workers at this time, Governor Ned Lamont announced a new program Wednesday that will help businesses during coronavirus crisis.
The program will help business owners like Fairfield’s, Gary Hall, who says his retail store, Island Outfitters still has product coming in even amid the coronavirus shutdown, and he is hoping not to have to send it back.
He says his store is also full of spring merchandise that he can’t sell because of the coronavirus shutdown. Instead, he is focusing on the back-end of his business, including online sales and social media.
Hall is also organizing a social media campaign called “Rally for Retail,” which urges customers to support small businesses by buying gift cards. Hall says he’s worried about what the crises will mean for neighborhood shops.
“[It may mean] more open spaces on Main Street, which is sad to me,” said Hall.
As small businesses across the state wait to see what the federal bailout means for them, workers are also wondering.
“Where I work, we decided for everyone’s safety to get with the program,” said Nancy Ryan of Hamden. The doggie daycare where she worked has closed temporarily.
Since the spike in jobless claims, Connecticut officials have issued daily updates on the number of unemployed. The federal government has issued new guidance asking states to stop releasing daily jobs numbers, citing concerns over accuracy and stock market speculation.
State officials say the data is accurate for the first 7 days of the crisis, but will become less reliable as repeat claims are filed. They say they will return to issuing the jobs numbers once a month.
The state and federal monthly jobs reports come out tomorrow.