Governor Rell Authorizes
Additional Resources to Labor Department for Swift Distribution of
For immediate release
December 1, 2008
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that she has directed the state Department
of Labor (DOL) to prepare a plan for handling the escalating number of
unemployment claims, along with the swift and efficient distribution of
additional unemployment assistance coming to the state.
Congress on November 20 passed - and President Bush the next day signed - the
Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which extends federal
unemployment compensation for people whose benefits have expired. The Act
provides states with an additional seven weeks of extended benefits; in states
where the unemployment rate is 6.0 percent or higher another 13 weeks will be
allowed, for a total of 20 weeks. In Connecticut, the unemployment rate is
currently 6.5 percent.
"Our state has been battered by the economic storm that has washed over Wall
Street and the rest of the nation's financial markets," Governor Rell said. "No
state is immune from this downturn. Although we have taken - and are taking - a
number of steps to help keep and grow jobs in our state it is vital that we
continue to support the families that are looking for work right now.
"The job-hunting process is hard enough in its own right without having to
struggle through a tangle of red tape to get unemployment assistance," the
Governor said. "This plan will put extra people on the phone and extra resources
at the Department of Labor to ensure that the people in our state who need this
aid will get it with a minimum of hassles and headaches."
The federal legislation not only pays for the benefits themselves but includes
additional money for states to use in expediting the handling of unemployment
insurance (UI) claims. Under the DOL plan, the agency is reopening its Emergency
Unemployment Compensation Resource Center, a comprehensive central office with
10 telephone lines dedicated to responding to inquiries regarding the newest
extension program. The agency is also approving overtime for staff members
throughout its UI division to speed all areas of response, including processing,
approvals, printing and mailroom work.
DOL is also recalling 15 recent retirees on a temporary basis, adding their
experience to the knowledge base of available staff, and bringing in trained
volunteer staff to assist in responding to UI inquiries. Additional DOL
employees have also volunteered to work with the UI division on a temporary
According to the Governor, those who are already collecting the initial 13 weeks
of extended federal benefits approved by Congress this past summer will
automatically continue to receive the newest extension if they have not yet
Those who have exhausted the 13 weeks of the extended benefits and are no longer
collecting but and have not yet found employment will receive a letter of
instruction in the mail. DOL is currently identifying these individuals and will
soon be mailing these letters.