Wilton sees historic jobless claims
WILTON — What a difference a few weeks makes.
In March of this year, before the coronavirus pandemic, Wilton’s unemployment rate stood at 3 percent. Of the town’s workforce of 8,374, there were just 252 people listed by the state Department of Labor as unemployed.
The state had 75,000 people out of work for an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent.
Other nearby towns had similar unemployment rates:
Darien — 2.8 percent.
New Canaan — 2.9 percent.
Redding — 3.2 percent.
Ridgefield — 2.6 percent.
Weston — 3.0 percent.
That’s all different now.
Unemployment claims did not start hitting in force until the week of March 15. According to the state Department of Labor, processed initial claims by town show the following numbers for Wilton. The state indicates data after March 29 is incomplete.
March 15 — 171.
March 22 — 198.
March 29 — 222.
April 5 — 105.
April 12 — 54.
April 19 — 40.
April 26 — 44.
These claims total 834 and based on the March workforce, that would translate into a jobless rate of just under 10 percent.
Neighboring towns show the following unemployment insurance claims for the same period of March 15-April 26.
Darien — 637
New Canaan — 692
Redding — 481
Ridgefield — 1,077
Weston — 502
In 2008, as the Great Recession was taking its toll, Wilton’s unemployment rate that year was 4.0 percent. The next year, it climbed to 6.1 percent, and the year after that to 6.4 percent.
By 2011 the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.2 percent and then began a steady decline until March 2020.
Wilton, of course, is not the only municipality hurting. The state Department of Labor received more than 450,000 unemployment insurance claims in less than two months, about what it would see in three years, according to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who spoke with the Democratic Town Committee on May 5. She said that leaves 23 percent of the state’s workers unemployed.
According to its website on Friday, the Department of Labor had processed 431,000 of 480,000 claim applications. It provided more than $1 billion in benefits: $433 million in state benefits and $607 million in federal pandemic benefits.
The only thing that will change these numbers is hiring and rehiring as businesses reopen.
In a Facebook interview last week with state Sen. Will Haskell (D-26), Peter Denious of Advance CT, who is on the Business Advisory Committee of the Council to reopen Connecticut, said of the business reopening, “The goal …is really to get the state open as quickly and, importantly, as safely as we possibly can, recognizing many, many Main Street businesses have been impacted and devastated by this.”
The economic and social aspects of reopening, he said, must be weighed with the health aspects.
To file a claim for unemployment, visit http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/UI-OnLine/index.htm.
A system for self-employed people to file for unemployment benefits may be viewed at http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/communic/2020-4/Labor%20Department%20Launches%20New%20System%20Today%20For%20Self-Employed%20To%20Apply%20For%20Federal%20Unemployment%20Benefits.pdf.