Sen. Boucher: Nation Optimistic over Lower Jobless Claims While Connecticut Labor Force Shrinks

December 30, 2013
Sen. Boucher (R-Wilton) listening to constituents concerns at a recent town hall meeting in Ridgefield.

Sen. Boucher (R-Wilton) listening to constituents concerns at a recent town hall meeting in Ridgefield.

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) Member of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee released the following statement today regarding the Bloomberg report on U.S. jobless claims, which dropped by 42,000 to 338,000 last week, according to Labor Department data.

“This drop in initial jobless applications was a sign that the rest of the nation is enjoying an improved outlook for the job market and robust consumer spending for 2014. According to Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, ‘Consumers are feeling a bit more buoyant heading into the new year.’

“Unfortunately, Connecticut residents do not share this buoyant feeling. The state’s economy remains mired in the worst recession since the 1930s, without the same signs of economic recovery emerging in other parts of the nation. Although Connecticut’s unemployment rate has fallen from 7.9% to 7.6%, it owes this reduction to a shrinking workforce, not to a recovering job market.

“The University of Connecticut Center of Economic Analysis quarterly economic outlook of Dec. 2013 reported that, ‘If participation in the workforce were still at the same level as it was in the 2nd quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate would be 10.7%. Nearly 65,000 working-age adults in Connecticut stopped looking for employment during the last three years.’

“Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) executives suggest that Connecticut needs to remove, rather than strengthen the barriers to economic competitiveness. They list reforming our tax system to encourage wealth creation and reining in spending as the right approaches to reviving Connecticut’s lackluster job market.

“It seems that each time Connecticut receives bad news about its poor job market, low credit rating, high debt and unfunded liabilities, excuses find their way to the top of news headlines. The latest blames “shocks” from Washington; a few months ago it was previous administrations. Other states are also affected by Washington “shocks”, yet they are moving ahead. There is no way around it. This administration’s bad business policies and bad budgets are to blame for Connecticut’s bad performance, not DC!

“State leaders need to stop punishing business with policies such as surcharges on profits, paid sick leave, and historically high tax increases which add people to unemployment lines.

“Many other states have encouraged growth aggressively by eliminating or reducing their income taxes, becoming “right to work” states, or like New York, creating tax free zones for new companies. Unlike Connecticut they have not given huge sums of money to an existing company for a move from one town to another. This only serves to incentivize other existing companies to ask for the same state government handout, creating a “me too” mentality as many small business go under or move out.

“CBIA states, ‘the threat of increased taxes and unfunded liabilities down the road is the biggest drag on their [businesses] to make investment in this state.’ This is not the news you want to hear. If the state’s long term economic outlook and quality of the job market is to improve, the administration will have to stop adding government regulations and taxes so business can rebound and hire workers.

“There must also be a sustained and committed effort to stop spending. Residents should be able to keep more money in their pockets and once again feel confident about living in Connecticut. Right now, that is not happening.”