HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday’s he’s willing to consider a proposal to pay workers a $450 stipend to return to work, an idea supported by President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor and some congressional Republicans.
“I’m doing everything I can to encourage people to get back to work and make sure that they can do it safely,” he said. “If they can’t do it safely and they don’t feel like they can do it safely, they’ll be reluctant to go back.”
New statistics released Thursday by the Department of Labor show the state gained 25,800 net jobs in May, after losing 269,200 jobs in April due to the pandemic. Andy Condon, director of the agency’s Office of Research, called the latest figures “the beginnings of a recovery” of those historic losses from April.
Lamont reiterated on Thursday he would prefer the federal government provide the state with grant money to help replenish Connecticut’s unemployment compensation fund rather than extend the extra $600 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit. His position is contrary to that taken by the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation, which supported the HEROES Act, which would extend the payments until January 2021.
“We’ve got the state unemployment compensation. We’ve opened up 95% of our economy. We’re urging everybody we can to get back to work,” Lamont said, when asked about residents who say they can’t make ends meet without the $600 weekly payments, which are currently slated to expire July 31. “You’ve got another month and now’s the time to plan for that day that you get back to work, now that all the stores and businesses are pretty much open.”
Condon said said the state’s leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and education and health services still remain the hardest hit industries from the pandemic.
“The process of recovery may quicken as Connecticut implements its phased response to the slowing spread of the virus,” he said.