Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

April 28, 2022

Senate Approves Bill Addressing Pandemic’s Disproportionate Impact on Women in the Workforce

To support an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Naugatuck, and Middlebury), Senate Chair of the Commerce Committee, led the unanimous approval of Senate Bill 407. The bill directs the state’s chief workforce officer to develop and implement a plan of action to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate economic impact on women and supporting their ability to return to the workforce, including establishing partnerships to support skill training and job search mentorship. The bill now advances to the state House of Representatives for a vote.

“Women have faced the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact and the effects of it still remain deeply felt. It is vital that we create pathways to help women return to the workforce and resume their careers after being disrupted by the pandemic. It will lend to an all-encompassing recovery among our communities, but also support Connecticut’s economy because women make up the majority of workers in health care, education, and other vital job industries,” said Sen. Hartley. “This bill will develop a roadmap for how Connecticut can help women re-enter the workforce, but even more, ensuring that women assisted by this plan of action have avenues for career training and mentorship in working toward the future stages of their career.”

Over a quarter of Connecticut women employed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic either lost or were furloughed from their jobs during the pandemic, according to survey report on the economic impact of COVID-19 on women in Connecticut published by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut. The same survey found that Latina/Hispanic/Latinx respondents had higher rates of being furloughed or losing a job compared to white women. The rates for both furloughed and lost employment were even higher among women of two or more races.

The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund shared in testimony that research indicates that women have continued to make up the majority of initial and continuing unemployment claims in Connecticut since March 2020.

Senate Bill 407 would have the chief workforce officer to collaborate with the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development and regional workforce development boards to develop a Post-COVID-19 Women’s Return to Work Economic Development Plan. The plan would include, but not limited to, partnerships with higher education institutions, nonprofits, child care providers, transit providers, and professional business associations. Among the aims of the partnerships are to develop and promote:

  • Business incentives to increase apprenticeship and internship opportunities for women
  • Paid internships in high-growth industries
  • Job and career fairs
  • Educational and employment coaching services

Senate Bill 407 received the support of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Greater New Haven & Quinnipiac Chambers of Commerce, and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.