Gov. Dannel P. Malloy directed state officials Tuesday to develop a plan to help unemployed people whose benefits may be cut short because Connecticut's unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent.
Malloy directed Department of Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall and Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick Bremby to make sure the state's safety net continues to work for the long-term unemployed.
"Our unemployment rate is at 7.7 percent, the lowest point it's been in three years," Malloy said in a statement. "But if you don't have a job and are now facing the loss of benefits, you're being put in an impossible situation."
Malloy said state resources need to be deployed for both unemployment assistance and job training. He asked Marshall and Bremby to develop an action plan within two weeks.
"Time is of the essence," he said.
Bremby said the state should make food and medical assistance available to citizens who become eligible after losing unemployment benefits.
"Our approach will include one-stop shopping for information and application referral at 2-1-1 United Way of Connecticut, as well as measures to bring services closer to various communities," Bremby said. "This may include (Department of Social Services) workers out stationed in additional areas and expanded use of our mobile office."
Marshall said the decreasing unemployment rate in Connecticut reduces the number of federal benefits available to state residents. Currently, 26 weeks of state benefits and 47 weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation continue to be available to residents seeking unemployment benefits. But residents no longer can receive seven weeks of extended benefits.
"While a lower unemployment rate is a good sign for our state's recovering economy, fewer weeks of assistance represents greater challenges for those trying to pay the bills while looking for a new job," he said in a statement.