(Wethersfield, CT) – Today, Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Kurt Westby announced that the Department has received more than a million applications for state, federal, and extended unemployment benefits; gave updates on the unemployment Trust Fund; and reminds residents that October is cyber security month.
Commissioner Westby said, “We’ve reached a milestone no one wanted to get to; the agency has now received more than a million applications for unemployment benefits. To put these numbers in perspective, over the past seven months we’ve received more applications than we usually get in eight years. It speaks to the impact this pandemic has had on every aspect of our lives—public health, the state’s workforce, and the economy. CTDOL is currently processing unemployment applications in 2-3 days, the Consumer Contact Center is assisting several thousand claimants each day, and we remain committed to getting benefits out to the people who need them.”
October is cyber security month. With the implementation of multiple federal unemployment programs launched in response to the pandemic, labor agencies across the country are seeing an uptick in criminal activity around unemployment claims. Cyber security experts recommend regular account maintenance to preserve the integrity and security of your personal information. Best practices include:
- Use different passwords for your social media, banking, email, and other accounts.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Use strong passwords—upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and stay away from dictionary words.
- Monitor your accounts—if you had an email breach, more than just your email could be compromised.
ANNUAL INCREASE TO WEEKLY BENEFIT RATE FOR NEW FILERS IN EFFECT
The weekly benefit rate rose $18 to a maximum of $667 per week for new claims with a benefit year beginning on or after October 4, 2020. The weekly benefit rate is based on the average wage of all Connecticut workers calculated between April 2019 and March 2020. The Connecticut Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages puts that wage at $1,349 per week during that timeframe. The dependency allowance remains $15 per dependent to a maximum of $75 per week.
- Since March 13, 2020, CTDOL has received more than 1,007,500 state, federal, and extended benefits applications
- Currently, ~232,000 weekly filers
- Application processing time, which hit a high of six weeks during the pandemic, is now at 1-3 days
- Contact center staff are assisting more than 20,000 claimants per week
To date, the state has borrowed $370M for the Trust Fund and has submitted the following borrowing requests: October – $150M, November – $150M, and December – $250M.
Since March 13, 2020, CTDOL has disbursed $314M in Lost Wages Assistance (effective July 26, 2020) as well as $5.2B in state, federal, and extended unemployment benefits:
· $2.2B in total unemployment benefits as follows:
o $1.8B in state unemployment benefits;
o $289M in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – for anyone who is not able to collect regular unemployment benefits, ex: self-employed or people without enough earnings to qualify;
o $148M Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – for individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits;
o $1.8M in state extended benefits; and
o $30M in federal extended benefits.
· $3B in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)—expired July 25, 2020.