Contact: Adam Joseph
March 26, 2012
We are beginning to see encouraging signs of an improving Connecticut economy.
A new report from the state Labor Department shows that unemployment here has dropped to a three-year low, and that 7,100 new jobs were added in January alone. While this is welcome news, much more work remains.
My No. 1 priority this legislative session is to build on the momentum created by the October jobs bill and continue our focus on growing jobs to put Connecticut residents back to work. In October, in a nearly unanimous and bipartisan vote, the General Assembly approved a $1 billion jobs bill for new and expanding business assistance, economic and work force development and job training.
A dozen state companies already have received state assistance, and 350 more applications are under consideration.
The jobs bill also created the Step-Up program, designed to promote job creation and worker opportunity for Connecticut small businesses and unemployed workers. Small businesses and manufacturers with fewer than 50 full-time employees may receive training grants up to $12,500 for every new hire for the first six months of employment. Employers may also be eligible for wage subsidies up to $20 an hour reimbursed at a declining rate over a six-month period. New employees must be unemployed, be residents of designated municipalities with high unemployment rates, or reside in a community with a population of at least 80,000. Employees also must have low overall family incomes.
Our plan, Senate Bill 1, builds on the jobs bill by expanding the grant and loan program for small businesses by altering the definition of small business from 50 to 100 employees, adding another 3,600 companies to the pool of potential applicants for state aid. Additionally, our plans call for the expansion of the Step-Up program by giving businesses incentive grants to hire post-Sept. 11 combat veterans returning from overseas.
For veterans who risked their lives on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, state Senate Democrats want to welcome these brave service men and women back to Connecticut with the prospect of a job. Our new jobs plan seeks to reverse the trend of disproportionately high unemployment among young veterans by connecting them with meaningful employment upon their return.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, double the rate of their non-military peers.
Specifically, the bill would make any Connecticut-based business that hires an unemployed combat veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan eligible to receive a grant for up to six months, covering a significant part of that veteran’s salary and training costs, up to $12,000 per soldier.
Senate Bill 1 also aims to curtail employers from discriminating against job applicants because they are unemployed by prohibiting employment agencies and websites from using advertisements for job openings that exclude people who are unemployed. The federal Labor Department reports that 14 million people are unemployed and almost half of them are classified as long-term unemployed, having been out of work for 27 weeks or more.
In this economic downturn, it has become apparent that some employers are taking advantage of the high jobless rate by discriminating against the unemployed, going as far as to include in job postings that the “unemployed need not apply” or opening jobs only to the currently employed or recently unemployed.
Another major component of the legislation is the Connecticut Made program. Modeled after the state’s Connecticut Grown campaign, Connecticut Made will promote local businesses and products.
Consumers want products that are manufactured locally. In fact, recent studies have shown that purchases made at locally owned and operated retailers produce significantly greater benefits to our economy than buying from a national chain store.
While we have made progress and set a course for economic growth in Connecticut, the gains we have made remain fragile. Aiding businesses and helping Connecticut residents to secure good jobs must remain our top priority.
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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