Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined officials at Comcast on Friday afternoon to celebrate the company’s announcement that it intends to hire 100 new customer service reps in a boost for private-sector employment in the state.
“I wanted to thank Comcast for their demonstration of faith in Connecticut as a great place to do business. Raising their employment from 1,500 to 1,600 is a substantial thing in this economy and I understand it and respect it,“ Malloy told Comcast employees at the cable-television company‘s Enfield offices. “This is an important down payment, something I wanted to be here to celebrate.”
The announcement of a June 27 job fair for the 100 new jobs comes the same day the Department of Labor released its May employment numbers showing unemployment at a stubborn 9.1 percent.
But despite an unchanged unemployment forecast, Malloy said the outlook isn’t all gloomy.
“If you examine our employment numbers in Connecticut, this past month, what you might notice is the private sector grew jobs. The public sector, municipal government, state government, and the two tribal casinos reduced employment,“ Malloy said. “So I actually saw some good things in those statistics.”
Despite month-to-month gains, due mostly to the influx of temporary census jobs, the public sector has seen year-to-year job losses since the start of the recession.
If the private sector can begin to produce jobs and if the state can prevent public sector employees from being laid off, then that would be a good thing for our economy, he said.
“But some things are beyond our control,” Malloy added.
The 45,000 state employees are currently voting on whether to accept or reject a tentative $1.6 billion labor agreement and depending on the outcome it could influence public sector employment in the future. Malloy has said that if the agreement is rejected he’ll have no choice but to lay off 7,500 employees.
Asked what he thinks about the results of the votes to date, Malloy said he doesn’t run these elections and believes he’s done everything he can to avoid having to lay people off.
“It’s been clear since Feb. 16 that we’ve needed the cooperation of our employee base,” Malloy said. “We certainly have that amongst the leadership. The membership now has to make a decision. My path is very clear.”
He said he’s watched for weeks the “information and misinformation,” fly around the Internet, but it’s not his job to sell the concession package to the unions. He said his job was to sit down with union leadership and chart a course for a sustainable relationship.
“I’m not one of these guys who stands around and gets encouraged or discouraged,” Malloy said dismissively of the mixed reports of the vote tallies.
Future Job Growth and the State Budget
“I think Connecticut has a strong future, but we’re going to have to sustain our efforts over a long period of time and have long term goals,” Malloy told Comcast employees.
Malloy mentioned the omnibus energy bill and his first five job initiative as the beginning of his economic development strategy that was passed by the General Assembly during his first legislative session as governor. Over the summer, Malloy will continue to visit businesses and talk about what he can do to improve the climate for jobs in the state.
Those visits and ongoing dialogue are part of a prelude to a special session the General Assembly will hold in the fall on jobs.
Critics say Malloy’s budget, which includes the highest tax increase in state history, did nothing to help Connecticut’s image as a “business unfriendly” state.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, who held a “Senator on You Sidewalk” event outside a Shop Rite on Thursday, said he heard from constituents who are struggling with the tax increases the governor proposed and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly adopted, mostly over Republican opposition.
He said there really isn’t any anger directed at the governor or the legislature, but “it’s more about how are they going to make ends meet.” He said there were just general questions about how come there weren’t more spending reductions and why there was such a big tax increase.