Strong Month for Job Growth in March

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Connecticut’s employers added 4,900 jobs in March, with restaurants, hotels, and retail jobs accounting for much of the gains.

It was a return to moderate job growth after harsh weather in January and February. The report, released by the Connecticut Department of Labor on Thursday, also said that February’s job growth was better than initial estimates suggested, with the job force growing by 1,400 rather than 800 positions.

Compared to a year earlier, the state has 9,400 additional jobs.

The unemployment rate, which is determined from a separate, smaller survey, was unchanged in March, at 7 percent.

The study also showed that wage gains continue to be anemic. The average private sector worker’s earnings increased 1.4 percent compared to March 2013, and inflation increased 1.5 percent during that period.

Factory Closing, 142 to be displaced

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Minnesota-based 3M will be closing a factory in Enfield that employs 142, and moving the work to two factories in Minnesota and one in Mexico.

The company owns three factories in the state, in Stafford Springs, Enfield and Meriden, the former headquarters of Cuno, founded there 102 years ago and sold to 3M in 2005.

The Meriden facility employs 311 and Stafford Springs employs 152.

“Everyone who is affected by this transition will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs anywhere in 3M,” said spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon. “We believe that several people will be able to move to Stafford Springs.”

The Enfield factory has 24 salaried positions and 118 production jobs.

“We told our employees about this at the end of February,” she said, and the phasing out of production in February will be completed by the end of the year.

‘The bill is now stalled… this is an absolute moral outrage.’

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At the end of last year, the amount of time the unemployed could collect benefits in Connecticut fell from a year and 11 weeks to half a year.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill this week that would retroactively pay long-term unemployed from January through through the end of May, or until the point they found jobs.

Both of Connecticut’s senators and two of the five House members held a press conference Friday protesting opposition to the bill by House Speaker John Boehner.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said although six Republican senators joined 53 Democratic senators, “the bill is now stalled because the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refuses to bring it up for a vote. This is an absolute moral outrage.”

Murphy’s office invited several job seekers to speak about why a renewal of long-term benefits matters to them. Milva McGhee, 50, of Manchester, lost her job as a college administrator in June, and her benefits ended in February, she said.

Even though McGhee has found a little freelance work, and has a husband with a job, she said the end of her benefits has affected her family dramatically . “I’ve been dismantling the IRA,” she said.

Shari Cousin, of West Hartford, is receiving benefits since she lost her program director job at a nonprofit in December. Even with that support, and her husband’s salary, she said, “I also have had to tap into my retirement fund.” She said she only has nine weeks of checks left, and after the retirement plan is exhausted, “I’m concerned we could be homeless.”

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Connecticut Unemployment Rate Now 7%, Lowest in 5 Years

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Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.2 percent to 7 percent in February, the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, according to a release Thursday from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, and the difference between the two is likely illusory due to the margin of error in the state survey, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal agency that manages the data in this report.

The state’s employers added 800 jobs in February, after cutting 10,900 jobs in January.

“February’s job report seemed to confirm that weather was partly responsible for January’s sharp decline as we saw recovery in several of the industries that had stumbled,” said Andy Condon, director of the state labor department’s Office of Research.

The number of jobs in the state is up 10,300 compared to February 2013, a growth rate two and a half times slower than the nation’s job growth.

Over that period, durable goods manufacturing, the great majority of the state’s manufacturing sector, had the most job erosion, with 4,000 fewer jobs than a year ago. Government cutbacks were the second biggest drag on employment, with a net loss of 3,700 jobs. The economically important finance and insurance sector is also continuing to contract, and has 1,700 fewer jobs than it did a year ago.

The construction sector had the fastest growth, at 7 percent, and 3,800 additional positions. Hotels and restaurants added the largest number of jobs, at 6,200 over the year. Health care and social assistance jobs continue to grow, and those fields have 3,900 more jobs in February than a year earlier.

January Sees Huge Job Hit, Weather Likely A Factor

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Connecticut’s jobs base had a net loss of 10,400 jobs in January, the Connecticut Department of Labor said Friday.

The nation’s employers added 129,000 jobs that month, about 60,000 fewer than the average over the last several years, a result that was also attributed to heavy snowstorms and very cold temperatures.

Retail, restaurants, temporary workers and insurance and finance jobs all dropped in big numbers in the month of January, the report said. Insurance and finance, where the total number of jobs fell by 1,600, is unlikely to be weather dependent.

Connecticut’s Job Market Has Best Year Since 2006

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Connecticut employers added 18,400 jobs in 2013, a 1.1 percent growth rate and the best year since 2006, just before the Great Recession, new employment figures released Friday show.

In 2006, the state’s employers added 23,300 jobs.

While the economy’s strength was significantly better than in the first three years of the recovery, when job growth ranged between 10,500 and 14,300, it’s still not fast enough growth to make up for the large losses in 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, the state’s jobs base shrank by 32,600 jobs. In 2009, the state’s employers slashed a net total of 66,200 jobs.

The unemployment rate fell from 8 percent in January 2013 to 7.4 percent in December 2013. Both numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in a written statement reacting to the report, said the data “is yet another sign that we are making progress in turning our economy around.”

“Clearly,” he said, “we have much more work to do. But we are making steady progress in our effort to create good paying jobs with good benefits for middle class families in Connecticut.”

To read about January’s huge job losses, click here.

Only State Where Working Is Worse Is Mississippi?

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Most years, a random sample of Connecticut residents say they’re pretty happy and healthy. Each year Gallup and Healthways interview people about their moods, their physical health, their eating and exercise habits, their basic economic needs and their life satisfaction. Over the five years the survey has run, the Nutmeg state’s average ranking was 19. Not as blissful as Hawaii, which was generally home to the happiest, healthiest residents, and below three other New England states, but not too shabby.

In 2013, the survey’s results took a much darker tone. The composite score in 2012 had been 67.6, and in 2013, it was 65.9. The national average in 2013 was 66.2. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but because all the states are clustered between 61 and 70, that made Connecticut fall from 16th happiest, healthiest state to 31st.

We still had a very high score for the proportion of the population who’s financially comfortable, and how healthy we are, but folks are not happy about their bosses. There was a big drop in people who said their supervisors treat them like a partner.

So the survey says that we have the second-worst work environment, just above Mississippi, where pay is lowest. Connecticut workers have the highest pay in the nation.



Obama: Expand Earned Income Tax Credit for Those With No or Grown Children

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About 142,000 Connecticut residents would get more money or be newly eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit if President Obama can sell this part of his budget proposal. The budget rolled out Tuesday.

The EITC returns payroll taxes paid by the working poor, and in some cases, gives them checks beyond all the federal taxes they paid. About $63 billion a year is distributed to 32 million working families through both the EITC and the child tax credit. In Connecticut in 2012, workers received $438 million in federal tax refunds from these credits.

People who don’t have children living with them can qualify for the EITC, but for these workers, the payments are very small. For the average worker who’s childless, whose kids are grown, or whose kids live with the other parent, the refund is just $264. For the average custodial parent, the EITC pays $2,905.

Obama wants to increase the EITC for the childless to $1,000 from the current maximum of $487. He would also expand eligibility for independent adults 21 to 24 and for workers who are 65 and 66. Students who are still claimed on their parents’ taxes would continue to be ineligible.

He also would increase the earnings ceiling for phasing out the credit.

Nationwide, 7.7 million people who currently qualify for the EITC would receive larger checks and 5.8 million people would be newly eligible. The expansion would increase the cost of the program by less than 10 percent, with an estimated $60 billion in refunds over the next decade.

Obama suggests the cost of the expansion be offset by revenue from closing tax loopholes on private equity managers, hedge fund titans and real estate developers, who are allowed to take much of their wages as capital gains rather than salary, which means they pay a lower tax rate.

Commentators have said Obama’s budget priorities are dead on arrival. Last week, U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, head of the House Budget committee and a leader in shaping conservative spending priorities, praised the EITC as more effective than raising the minimum wage. Tuesday, he released a statement that said: “This budget isn’t a serious document; it’s a campaign brochure.” 


Car salesperson, administrative, garage jobs at CarMax

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CarMax, the no-haggle used car chain, is looking for a dozen salespeople, two administrative employees and someone to work in auto repair at its Hartford store.

The sales jobs are commission-only, with a per-vehicle commission, not a percentage of the sales price.

The corporation is looking for one person to work in purchasing, and one to work in the business office, which includes accounts receivable work, processing titles and other administrative duties.

While spring and summer are busier times for car sales, spokeswoman Michelle Ellwood said the sales positions are not seasonal. “We’re looking for people to start their careers at CarMax,” she said.

To apply, visit

Connecticut State’s Largesse To Companies Not Generous Enough To Crack Top 50

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Good Jobs First, a non-profit critical of economic development deals subsidized by tax dollars, released a top-100 list on Tuesday of corporations that have gotten subsidies from state and local governments.

None of Connecticut’s deals were big enough to crack the top 25.

The companies were ranked by cumulative totals of awards over the decades. The first economic development incentive in database is from 1976, but most of the awards are from the last 20 years.

Most companies get subsidies from several different states. For instance, Walt Disney, parent company to ESPN, receives tax benefits, grants and low-interest loans from California, Connecticut and others, to a cumulative total of $381.5 million. Out of all corporations getting subsidies,Walt Disney ranks 46th. Connecticut’s share of Disney’s incentives was $146.5 million.

Boeing received the most support from local governments, with $13.2 billion in subsidies.

Jackson Laboratory was 64th on the list, purely from Connecticut’s $291 million loan.

UBS, the Swiss banking giant, was 79th, with grants, tax credits and loans totaling $247.6 million — Connecticut taxpayers paid $170 million of that.

But other big players in Connecticut received much more from other states where they have facilities. For instance, General Dynamics, the parent company of Electric Boat, has received $262.5 million in incentives over the years, putting it at 73rd. But only $24.9 million came from Connecticut. Maine has given the defense contractor $195 million, the report said. General Dynamics bought Bath Iron Works in Maine in 1995 for $300 million.

Good Jobs First, in explaining its interest in publicizing these deals, writes: “Many people call subsidies ‘incentives,’ but that’s not really accurate. An incentive motivates someone to do something they would not have done otherwise. A mountain of evidence suggests that development subsidies are often abused by companies that would have done exactly what they did anyway.”

The database, as huge as it is, is not comprehensive. For instance, Pfizer, which Good Jobs First reports as having received $210.1 million over the decades, does not have any Connecticut subsidies listed. But the Courant tallied $60 million in state support to the company from the early ’90s to 2011.

To look at the Connecticut corporate and small business subsidies Good Jobs First tallied, click here:

To see the full list of the 100 biggest recipients of state aid, or to look up companies such as United Technologies Corp. that didn’t make the list, visit here.