First selectwoman questions Wilton jobless rate of 4.5%

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice questions whether Wilton's 4.5-percent unemployment rate, figured by the state Department of Labor, is accurate.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice questions whether Wilton’s 4.5-percent unemployment rate, figured by the state Department of Labor, is accurate.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

WILTON — The town’s unemployment rate for the month of October is pegged at 4.5 percent, according to information posted Friday by the state Department of Labor.

Wilton’s workforce is counted as 7,958 with 355 unemployed, according to the state’s data.

This is the first month the labor department did not qualify its numbers since the pandemic forced businesses to shut down by saying issues with the collection of household-based labor force information had caused unemployment to be underestimated.

Still, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice remains unconvinced, as she was earlier this year, that the state’s figures are accurate.

“I continue to lack confidence in the components of the unemployment rate calculation and 355 as an accurate count of Wilton’s unemployed,” she wrote in an email on Friday.

“The workforce size used in the calculations continues to be 500 less than Wilton’s pre-pandemic workforce. There still isn’t clarification of why those 500 residents are no longer considered in the workforce and the unemployed amounts,” she added.

“We also can be fairly confident that the number of residents receiving unemployment benefits exceeds 355, because at the end of October, Connecticut was making payments to 353 residents who previously worked in Connecticut and New York State was making payments to residents who previously worked in NYS,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic in March, the town’s workforce was counted as 8,374 and the unemployment rate was 3 percent. There were 252 Wilton residents listed by the state Department of Labor as unemployed.

Unemployment will be on the minds of those putting together the next fiscal year’s budget, Vanderslice said. She referenced an article that appeared in Bloomberg that indicated future layoffs in the finance industry were possible.

“We’ll be watching that as we head into our March budget discussions, as what happens within that industry does impact Wilton residents,” she said.

Unemployment claims

Initial unemployment claims for Wilton, processed by the state, dropped significantly in October since the high-water mark of 222 claims for the week of March 29.

According to Department of Labor, there were three claims the week of Oct. 11 and seven claims the week of Oct. 18, the last week for which the state has complete figures. An increase for the week of Oct. 4 — 184 — is explained as “due to new claims for active PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) claimants who are on extensions. This increased level of initial claims is not expected to continue in future weeks.”

Although the numbers are incomplete for the weeks after Oct. 18, they are also low:

 Oct. 25 — 3

 Nov. 1 — 6

 Nov. 8 — 4

The number of continued unemployment claims being processed by the state continues to drop as well. From March 15 through April 26, there were 834 claims for unemployment. The numbers for October are all below 400:

Oct. 3 — 390

Oct. 10 — 382

Oct. 17 — 369

Oct. 24 — 353

Claims after Oct. 24 are incomplete, according to the Department of Labor.