(Updated 5:15 p.m.) With the unemployment rate dropping for the past eight consecutive months, Connecticut is no longer considered a “high unemployment state.” That’s the good news. The bad news is that for those already receiving unemployment it means their benefits will expire at a much faster rate.
In February, the number of eligible weeks dropped from 99 to 93, and by the end of this month Department of Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall said he expects the state to lose seven more weeks, which means 3,000 people will drop off the unemployment rolls. By next month he expects another 11,000 will join them.
The Department of Labor estimates that by the end of 2012, there will be 75,000 long-term unemployment insurance claimants that have exhausted all benefits and have not found work. By the end of 2012, about 17,500 unemployed people will no longer receive extended benefits.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday that he’s working with Marshall and the Department of Social Services to develop a plan to assist individuals who will no longer be receiving unemployment.
Malloy suggested food stamps and Medicaid services may be programs the unemployed can join if they qualify.
“We need to be making those connections for people,” Malloy said. “We certainly don’t want people going around with medical conditions untreated.”
“We’re making progress,” Malloy said. “And by the way, the people who brought those lawsuits have acknowledged we’re making progress on those fronts, so we’ll continue to make progress on those fronts. Listen, I inherited a mess. I’m trying to clean it up. Doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re making progress.”
At least one of the attorney’s for the plaintiffs in the Medicaid case disagreed with the governor’s characterization that progress was being made. Sheldon Toubman of New Haven Legal Aid said the data they’re getting from the state shows the “delays are getting worse and worse.” He said at the end of the month 62 percent of the Medicaid application cases are pending more than the time allowed under federal law, and that’s after 120 new people were hired by the department to process applications.
Malloy said a program for those who fall off the unemployment roles without finding a job will be developed in the next two weeks.
“We need to redouble our efforts to make sure that those resources are going to people who need them most,” Malloy said in a press release.