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Wilton's Boucher: Nation Optimistic While Connecticut Labor Force Shrinks

Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) listens to constituents' concerns at a recent Town Hall meeting in Ridgefield.
Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) listens to constituents' concerns at a recent Town Hall meeting in Ridgefield. Photo Credit: Contributed

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

Boucher is a Republican who represents the 26th District towns of New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton in the State Senate. 

“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 percent to 7.6 percent, 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 December 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 percent. 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.

“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.”

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