Connecticut announced plans to give thousands of long-term unemployed people $1,000 after two months of working at a new job.
Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, unveiled the state's "Back to Work CT" program this week as a means to incentivize those pushed out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic for an extended period of time to reenter the workforce.
The initiative promises to provide 10,000 long-term unemployed Connecticut residents who obtain new jobs with a one-time $1,000 bonus after they have worked for eight consecutive weeks.
Lamont called the program "the latest tool in our toolbox to maximize our state's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic" in a statement Monday.
The program is being administered by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, which will provide an application form on its website in the coming days.
"The Back to Work CT initiative offers a tangible incentive to those taking affirmative steps to transition from unemployment back to the workforce," Mark D. Boughton, the state's revenue services commissioner, added in a statement. "These and other innovative efforts will continue to fuel economic growth and with it, Connecticut’s comeback."
The program will be funded by Connecticut's Coronavirus Relief Fund, which includes federal funding obtained through the March 2020 CARES Act.
Connecticut's announcement comes after a dismal employment report last month from the Labor Department, which showed employers added 266,000 jobs in April. The job gains were far fewer than expected, and led a handful of GOP lawmakers to argue that enhanced unemployment insurance benefits were deterring people from returning to work, claims largely refuted by economists.
Lamont said in the same statement announcing the $1,000 payments that the Connecticut Department of Labor will reinstate work-search requirements for unemployment insurance recipients at the end of the month. The pre-pandemic work search requirements for those receiving unemployment were waived last year during the height of the crisis when jobs were especially scarce.
As of last month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 6.1%. Just before the pandemic struck, in February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5%.
Connecticut hasn't released figures for unemployment in April. In March, it was 8.3% compared with 3.8% a year earlier.