CT, Northeast see no pop in jobless claims following big tech layoffs

Passengers board a Metro-North train in December 2022 at the station in Stamford, Conn.

Passengers board a Metro-North train in December 2022 at the station in Stamford, Conn.

Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media

As a rash of layoffs continued Thursday by technology companies, no accompanying spike in initial claims for unemployment insurance has surfaced in Connecticut and nationally — a possible sign that workers are getting offers at other companies still in hiring mode, despite a slowing U.S. economy.

About 4,450 Connecticut workers submitted initial claims for unemployment compensation in the second week of January, according to a Thursday update by the U.S. Department of Labor. Initial claims dropped a second straight week, and were in line with January filings years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island also saw initial jobless claims drop sharply the second week of January. And the declines extended to California where Google and Meta are based, while Washington saw claims stay steady where Amazon and Microsoft have their main corporate offices. All four announced job cuts this month.

On Thursday, IBM joined the swelling parade of tech employers announcing, 3,900 job cuts equating to 1.5 percent of its workforce. The Armonk, N.Y.-based giant has a campus in Southbury and employs a significant number of Connecticut commuters otherwise.

Connecticut was dealt a blow this week as well with Lego's decision to move its North American headquarters from Enfield to Boston.

"They've gone through so much corporate restructuring over the 50 years they've been in our town -- they owned a manufacturing plant as well as a shipping terminal and corporate offices," said state Rep. Tom Arnone, D-Enfield, speaking Thursday during a hearing by the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. "I hope that they can someday expand again, instead of the road that they've been on lately."

Also this week, Lockheed Martin confirmed hundreds of job cuts at a division that includes Sikorsky in Stratford, without specifying whether Connecticut jobs are being cut or transferred elsewhere. A new union contract allows Lockheed Martin to offer up to offer buyouts to as many as 500 unionized workers at Sikorsky over the coming three years.

The Connecticut Department of Labor reported this week a slowing jobs market in the final two months of 2022, with the end of election season possibly influencing the surveys as temporary workers completed their short gigs at polling stations.

But other companies continue to expand, across swaths of the economy from iCapital in Greenwich, to medical device contract manufacturer Biomerics in Monroe, to Trader Joe's in Glastonbury.

And in November, Connecticut was among the handful of states to see the largest month-over-month increase in workers quitting their jobs according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates released last month, along with California and Washington. That is a possible sign of continuing strength in local jobs markets that is allowing workers with good qualifications to jump ship for better opportunities.

But through last September, Connecticut continued to have a higher combined "U-6" unemployment rate that includes people who are searching for jobs, those who have despaired of finding work that suits them, and "under-employed" workers forced to continue in jobs they would not otherwise stay with in order to make ends meet. New York, California and Nevada had the highest U-6 rate in the nation at 9 percent or more of potential workers, with Connecticut fifth at a U-6 rate of 8.1 percent.

Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott and Luther Turmelle.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman