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Southeastern Connecticut legislators ask Lamont to reopen American Job Centers

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Nine Democratic legislators representing southeastern Connecticut wrote to Gov. Ned Lamont this week asking him to reopen the state's American Job Centers.

"As you know, hundreds of thousands of Connecticut workers have filed unemployment claims as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic; many of them for the first time in their lives," they wrote in a letter Monday. "While the Department of Labor continues to process these claims, our offices remain inundated with calls and (emails) from constituents from all walks of life in desperate need of a job."

The letter was signed by state Sens. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Norm Needleman, D-Essex; Reps. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville; Kate Rotella, D-Stonington; Anthony Nolan, D-New London; Emmett Riley, D-Norwich; Christine Conley, D-Groton; Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, and Brian Smith, D-Colchester.

The state's comprehensive American Job Centers are located in Montville, Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Hamden, and there are 14 other affiliated job centers in the state.

The legislators feel that with mask requirements, social distancing and thorough cleanings, these facilities can reopen in a similar fashion to DMV branches. They asked the governor to immediately reopen the Montville center, pointing out that southeastern Connecticut has been the hardest hit part of the state when it comes to higher unemployment from the pandemic.

According to figures the Connecticut Department of Labor released Thursday, nonfarm employment in the Norwich-New London-Westerly area decreased 14.2% from July 2019 to July 2020. In comparison, the statewide decrease was 8.5%.

e.moser@theday.com

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