Connecticut will pay $1,000 bonus to first 10,000 people who get jobs!
Gov. Lamont says Connecticut will pay $1,000 bonus to first 10,000 people who get jobs. Program aims to get long-term unemployed back to work.
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING and ELIZA FAWCETTHARTFORD COURANT |MAY 17, 2021 AT 6:12 PM
HARTFORD — With some business owners saying they are having trouble finding workers, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a plan Monday to pay a $1,000 signing bonus to the first 10,000 long-term unemployed workers who land a job.
“Starting on Monday, Connecticut is going to offer you a $1,000 signing bonus,’’ Lamont said at his regular Monday afternoon press briefing. “You see the big athletes get a signing bonus. Why don’t you get a signing bonus as well?”ADVERTISING
“So for those of you who have been long-term unemployed for a while, we’re going to pay you $1,000 at the end of two months of work, to give you the incentive to get back to work, make sure work is worth your while, make sure that you can afford it, make sure if you need help on transportation, a little bit of extra help on child care, we’ve got the upfront money that allows you to do that,” Lamont said.
The bonus is needed, Lamont said, because the state currently has 65,000 job openings, which have come partly because restaurants, bars and other businesses are now opening back up at full capacity.
The $10 million program will be funded through federal COVID-19 relief money.
“There are a lot of jobs out there,” Lamont said.ADVERTISING
The long-term unemployed who would be eligible would be those who have been out of work for 8 to 12 weeks, he said.
Lamont said he is worried that people have been discouraged or scared to rejoin the workforce due to the long pandemic. The bonus is an attempt to convince them to start working again.
The bonus program is aimed at countering reports that people are remaining unemployed in order to collect an additional $300 federal unemployment benefit per week, which is on top of their state unemployment benefits. When those two numbers are combined, critics say it gives workers little reason to get a job. The additional federal money is scheduled to end in September, and some members of Congress are skeptical about granting an extension.
The workers will be able to apply for the bonus on state labor department’s web site once they have the job in place.
While Lamont touted the one-time bonus, House Republican leader Vincent Candelora of North Branford blasted the idea.
“Persuading people to give up one government benefit with promise of another one is a little like a dog chasing its tail,’’ Candelora said. “By gleefully proposing this bribe to work program, the governor has not only ignored the role that enhanced unemployment benefits have played in employers’ inability to fill vacancies, but also the long-term economic impact of relying on what seems like a never-ending supply of federal money to fix our problems.’’
He added, “The governor should instead follow the obvious path taken by nearly 20 other governors and opt out of the $300 weekly unemployment bonus program that employers say has made staying home a more lucrative option than rejoining the workforce.”
But Stew Leonard Jr., a Connecticut native who operates large supermarkets in Norwalk, Danbury and other sites, said that the incentive will help him hire workers for positions such as butchers, bakers, and cashiers.
“A thousand dollars is exciting,” Leonard said on a conference call with Lamont. Leonard joked that the incentive might prompt his 91-year-old father, who is retired, to rejoin the workforce.
Some workers, Leonard noted, have been collecting unemployment payments at the state and federal levels, and some are reluctant to immediately rejoin the workforce.
“It’s a real thing,” Leonard said.
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The state will also start to require people to show evidence they are searching for work to be eligible for unemployment compensation, Lamont said.
“We are going to require that you demonstrate that you have been searching for work,” Lamont said.
An aide said the change will take place on July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year, and will be publicized by the state labor department.
“This pandemic disproportionately struck women, people of color, and low income workers, and it happened almost overnight,” state labor commissioner Kurt Westby said in a statement. “The successful vaccine rollout and the focus on getting childcare back in place will allow many workers to go back to their jobs and start to rebuild.’’
Christopher Keating can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org