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September 14, 2021

Gov. Lamont to Hartford businesses: ‘How do we get people back to work?’

Sean Teehan Gov. Lamont speaks at a MetroHartford Alliance event at Dunkin' Donuts Park.

At a Tuesday morning event attended by Greater Hartford business leaders, Gov. Ned Lamont wondered aloud about Connecticut's unemployment situation as the state tries to move past COVID-19.

"How do we get people back to work?" Lamont asked during his speech at an event put on by the MetroHartford Alliance at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. "I've got relatively high unemployment compared to our peers — say, 100,000 out there collecting unemployment — but I have 70,000 jobs that we're not filling."

Connecticut added 9,400 jobs in July, one of its biggest gaining months since the pandemic started, dropping the state’s unemployment rate to 7.3%.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 5.2%.

The state has still only regained 67% of the jobs lost during the pandemic lockdown in March and April 2020. The federal government's extended unemployment benefits, which some have blamed for people not re-entering the workforce, ended earlier this month, which may spur more people to search for work, experts have said.  

Lamont pointed to the fact that Connecticut is among states with the highest vaccination rates — 67% of Connecticut adults are fully vaccinated, according to USA Facts — and lowest infection rates, saying he believes the state is as close to reaching public health preconditions for returning to in-person work as it will for a long time.

However, Lamont said the state's GDP is bouncing back, and that large numbers of people have moved to Connecticut from out-of-state in the past year. These data points, Lamont said, are evidence of the state gaining momentum.

"For years and years and years people were leaving the state of Connecticut, … remember all that negativity?" Lamont said. "That's not the way it is now, we've had tens of thousands of additional families move into Connecticut in the last year alone."

During a question-answer portion of the event, Lamont said the state's Special Transportation Fund is now funded at levels allowing for infrastructure work that will cut up to 15 minutes off commute times over the next few years. 

Lamont also weighed in on investing in Hartford's XL Center, saying he thinks the venue is important to the city and needs infrastructure work, but is looking at funding options that would not rely upon taxpayer dollars.

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