Lamont touts low unemployment, but Connecticut jobs still paint a mixed bag

More than two years after the pandemic, Connecticut’s unemployment rate is nearly back to pre-COVID levels. But the state is lagging behind in restoring lost jobs, and the industry is still struggling to find enough workers.

On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont toured Milford auto parts supplier FCP Euro, highlighting the state’s strong job numbers. The unemployment rate in July he dropped to 3.7%, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor.

“The unemployment rate has dropped dramatically, much faster than the national average,” Lamont said.

Connecticut also added 6,500 jobs in July, but the state has only recovered 88% of the jobs lost to COVID.

Business is booming in the FCP Euro. Ironically, because the economy as a whole is struggling. Due to the lack of new cars, people keep old cars and new parts to do it.

FCP Euro is growing rapidly and will soon expand to a much larger distribution facility in Arizona. FCP Euro says it is focusing on Connecticut, although that state has lower operating costs.

“Connecticut has an incredible amount of talent. We have an incredible pool of talent. That pool of talent still exists.”

However, many workers are still out of work due to lagging labor force participation rates across the country. Here in Connecticut, the Labor Department blames the lack of childcare, job training, and transportation. In addition, many people are starting their own businesses.

“Whether at FCP or elsewhere, many people may be quitting their old jobs and starting new ventures,” said David Lehman, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic Development.

This year’s state budget included additional job training programs and more than $500 million in tax relief and rebates. Buses are also free throughout the year.

“We are having the most extensive expansion of workforce development the state has ever experienced, ensuring transportation and securing day care,” Lamont said.

But Lamont’s Republican candidate, Bob Stefanovski, has said many of the tax cuts are temporary. He called for his 1% cut across the board in income tax rates, paid in part by the state’s billion dollar surplus. Lamont says the proposal is financially irresponsible and uses excess funds to pay off long-term debt.

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