- United Way of Connecticut outlines four recommendations for employers to get more people into the labor force
- One recommendation involves improved flexibility, while the remainder suggest ways that United Way services can provide assistance
- The recommendations are specifically geared toward assisting workers facing constraints due to lack of income or insufficient care options
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
With Connecticut’s economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic more slowly than the national economy, the United Way of Connecticut is offering a four-point plan for how businesses can attract people back to the workforce.
The organization unveiled its plan earlier this week at a New Haven event, in addition to a new diversity, equity, and inclusion statement. The plan is particularly concerned with workers that fall into the United Way’s ALICE definition (for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) who remain unemployed due to a lack of affordable child care options or insufficient wages or benefits. The organization notes that minorities are overrepresented in Connecticut’s ALICE population.
The four-point plan advises that employers provide flexible and family-friendly child care policies for their employees. It says these can extend to flexible arrangements in work schedules as well as accommodating workers who have child or senior care needs.
The plan also urges employers to partner with or make employees aware of United Way services, namely
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance popups, a free program for low- and middle-income families to avoid the high costs involved in filing taxes and understand what benefits they may be eligible for
- The United Way of Connecticut’s 2-1-1 service, which connects workers with 40,000 community resources
- Child care subsidy programs for low- and moderate-income families, including the United Way of Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program
Connecticut’s unemployment rate rose from 3.8 percent in March 2020 to a high of 11.4 percent in May and June of that year. While it dropped to 8.4 percent in August 2020, it has remained elevated above the national rate ever since and only retreated to 7.2 percent as of August 2021.
There are an estimated 100,000 unemployed people in Connecticut and 70,000 job openings. In the Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s latest annual survey, business owners identified a labor shortage as the top reason preventing them from growth.
United Way of Connecticut officials suggest that constraints regarding income and care for others are playing a major role in keeping people out of the workforce. They say their suggestions could provide more reassurances to workers and cause them to return to the labor force in greater numbers.