The College 2 Career Expo is in East Hartford, Connecticut this Wednesday

Photo: COD Newsroom,

Photo: COD Newsroom,

By Alicia Sakal

If you are an enrolled undergraduate or graduate student, or a recent college graduate still looking for a job, then it’s a must to attend the College 2 Career Expo at Rentschler Field on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in East Hartford, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Labor and HSEP (The Hartford – Springfield Economic Partnership) this 11th Annual College 2 Career Expo is free and completely wide open to all college students and recent grads. Although the majority of the 600 to 1,000 attendees that come each year are from the Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield – Boston, Massachusetts regions, if you are a college student from the tri-state area, then you’ll be glad you attended.

It’s well-worth the effort to make it to this expo because over 50 employers from the “Knowledge Corridor” are recruiting college students and recent graduates for several professional and technical career opportunities across a broad range of fields and industries. Some of the companies attending are TM Technologies, Frontier Communications, The State Department of Revenue Services, CDW, Prudential Financial, MTU Aero Engines North America, Waterford Hotel Group and Quest Global.

For additional information please read the full article: The College 2 Career Expo is in East Hartford, Connecticut this Wednesday

How to fix Connecticut’s economy: An interview with State Rep. Richard A. Smith (Part 2 of 2)

Smith Connecticut Budget Forum

Contributed Photo.

By Alicia Sakal

In the first exclusive interview with State Representative Richard A. Smith, he states that Connecticut’s true unemployment rate is more like 8.97 percent. The economy is failing terribly, and Connecticut-based companies and residents are continuing to leave the state in droves for better opportunity and less taxes elsewhere. The state is in job growth crisis mode, and it will take at least three-and-a-half more years just to recover from all of the jobs lost since the recession began.

In light of Connecticut inheriting a $3 billion dollar deficit next year, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the second part of this interview with State Representative Richard A. Smith focuses on what he thinks it will take to repair the economy. The proposed action plan would, concurrently, help tremendously with getting the entire workforce population working again.

The question posed to Connecticut State Representative Richard A. Smith:

How do you think Connecticut can get back on track with improving the economy and creating jobs to get the unemployed working again?

The answer:

Here are 6 highly realistic solutions that sound simple, yet can fix the bleak Connecticut economy

  1. Avoid tax increases.

The short-term goal is to avoid any more tax increases. To accomplish this, the budget needs to have a $1.4 billion cut next year and by $1.6 billion the following year. Over the long-term, we should be trying to roll back some of the $1.8 billion in annual tax increases imposed by the current administration, which began in 2011.

  1. Stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars in “corporate welfare” money to keep corporations from leaving.

I believe that job growth can start to happen if the state government stops spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to keep corporations from leaving the state.

The great majority of the workforce in Connecticut is the small business with 10 employees or less. Governor Malloy and his legislative supporters have doled out over $271 million in corporate welfare spending for the First Five Program.

This amount does not include $20 million for UBS to stay in Connecticut, which was not part of the First Five Program that Governor Malloy created. It also does not include $300 million for Jackson Lab. The Governor, via the Legislature, also allocated $115 million for Bridgewater, a major hedge fund company to move to Stamford. Thankfully, Bridgewater backed away from their deal with the state.

Instead of handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to major corporations, we should reduce our corporate taxes so our smaller businesses have money to reinvest.

  1. Help small businesses.

Another way to help our small businesses is to eliminate the special assessment tax businesses pay on the money the state borrows from the federal government, and stop the practice of overtaxing and over-regulating. Businesses are fearful of expanding and hiring more people because of the uncertainty of higher taxes and the inability to budget for the same.

The dollar amount of the special assessment varies from year to year. This year, it was approximately $10 million. Every business is assessed a tax to repay the loan Connecticut borrowed from the Federal Government to replenish the unemployment fund. This assessment is on top of all the other taxes businesses have to pay.

We should also eliminate the business entity tax which is an unnecessary tax burden on our employers.

  1. Improve transportation and mobility for workers.

The Legislature created a Special Transportation Fund (STF) for repairing highways, mass transit systems and our infrastructure.

According to ASCE, 73 percent of Connecticut’s major roads are poor or mediocre quality, resulting in $847 million in extra vehicle repairs to our residents. Nearly 10 percent of the bridges are structurally deficient with another 25 percent deemed functionally obsolete.

Although this fund is restricted and the need for repair is obvious, each year Governor Malloy and his legislative supporters have raided the fund to balance their budget.

It is time to reinvest in our infrastructure, which will not only create jobs, but will also attract businesses to Connecticut knowing they can produce and ship their product without delay.

  1. Reduce the gas tax.

The gas tax is way too high which makes Connecticut too expensive for truckers to come here.

Connecticut’s gas tax is the third highest in the country and our gas price per gallon is the fourth highest in the country.

Consequently, we are a pass-through state for most motorists because the cost of gas is cheaper in the majority of our boarder states. As a result, we miss out on this major source of economic stimulus.

  1. Create better training and education programs for in-demand jobs.

Although we have a very educated workforce, there is a need for better training in the manufacturing sector, which our schools should be equipped to do.

Also, as trends in industry change, like outsourcing workers, we need to provide training and educational opportunities to help those who have lost jobs so they can remain viable members of the workforce. There are studies that project which fields will need additional workers and we should be in the forefront to equip our residents with the knowledge to partake in those jobs.

Related articles:

(Part 1) Connecticut’s job growth crisis: An interview with State Rep. Richard A. Smith

Connecticut’s startups, expansions and layoffs announced in August

This exclusive interview originally ran on Examiner. It was recently reprinted on October 8th by the Citizen News, a local newspaper in Connecticut. This article also appeared in the (Connecticut Business & Industry Association) member eNewsletter and is circulating on LinkedIn Pulse.

Connecticut’s job growth crisis: An interview with State Rep. Richard A. Smith (Part 1 of 2)


Contributed Photo.

By Alicia Sakal

In a recent exclusive interview with Connecticut State Representative Richard A. Smith of the 108th District who represents New Fairfield, Sherman, New Milford, and Danbury, he thinks Connecticut’s real unemployment rate is more like 8.97 percent. He also shared that the economy is in-fact failing miserably, and the state is actually in job growth crisis mode.

As Ranking Member of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, Richard offers unique insight regarding the somber unemployment situation and the lack of substantial job growth in the State of Connecticut. Here’s how he answered some questions in an original interview piece that ran in early September on

Do you think Connecticut is finally recovering from the recession?

No. We are no better now than we were four years ago, and we continue to set policies that move the State in the wrong direction. Taxes, on every level, are still outrageously high. So many people are still out of work, and they will continue to look for and find jobs elsewhere, unless Connecticut provides a favorable climate for job creation.

Regarding the latest unemployment number reported, what are your thoughts?

An improvement of one-tenth of a percentage point is nothing to get excited about because the report creates a false-sense of economic recovery.

The real unemployment rate in Connecticut is more like 8.97 percent if the unemployed workers who are no longer collecting and just gave up looking are actually included.

To get to this number I looked at December 2010, the month before Governor Malloy took office. This is when the labor force hit its peak at 1,917,300. Since then, the labor force has declined almost every month.

Today, the labor force stands at 1,872,200, including those employed and those looking for work. This is 45,100 less than in December 2010. It is widely believed that those 45,100 people are also unemployed but have stopped looking for work. If you add them to the reported unemployment number, the unemployment rate in Connecticut increases to 8.97 percent.

How long do you think it will take to recover?

In theory, and at this rate, it will take us over three-and-a-half years more just to recover from all of the jobs lost.

Doing the math, I simply used the numbers provided by the Connecticut Department of Labor in their July Labor Situation report. Basically, we need to recover 68,600 jobs to have a fully restored workforce. We have been restoring 1,625 jobs, on average, per month. Clearly it will take some time at the rate we are going.

Since March of 2008, the beginning of the recession, what is the grand total and breakdown of jobs lost versus jobs gained? 

There is no central source that reports both the number of jobs lost and the number of jobs gained. The Department of Labor reports survey numbers only, which theoretically represent a net number – jobs gained minus jobs lost. According to data from the Department of Labor, there are 22,400 fewer people employed today than there were in March 2008. There are 29,200 more people unemployed than there were in March 2008.

In addition, average weekly earnings in the private sector when Malloy took office were $954.72. The August Labor Situation Report shows weekly earnings at $940.99. The average worker is actually making less today than almost four years.

One of the things about the earnings numbers is that a lot of the new jobs are part-time jobs, which would at least partially explain the decreased earnings. Part-time jobs are also included in the job creation and unemployment rate numbers that Malloy cites.

What are a few more of the main reasons why you believe Connecticut’s economy is in turmoil?

For starters, Connecticut is in extremely poor economic condition. The Office of Fiscal Analysis, a non-partisan independent agency, is reporting over a projected $3 billion dollar deficit that we are inheriting next year.

Secondly, the #1 Employer in the State of Connecticut is the Connecticut Government. This is not a good indicator of a healthy, diverse and growing economy.

According to a recent report from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, there are 61,349 full-time state employees, which make up about 3.6 percent of the total Connecticut workforce.

And, according to the Department of Labor, there are approximately 1.7 million people employed in Connecticut.

As a comparison, and as far as I can tell, the next largest employer in the State of Connecticut is Sikorsky, with approximately 11,000 employees.

For more in-depth reading, see State Representative Richard A. Smith’s recent article:

OPINION: Economic outlook still bleak in Connecticut

This exclusive interview originally ran on Examiner. It was recently reprinted on October 8th by the Citizen News, a local newspaper in Connecticut. This article also appeared in the (Connecticut Business & Industry Association) member eNewsletter.

Company layoffs outnumber new jobs in Connecticut for September

CTDOL_Logo_Hi Res_Color (1)

Contributed Photo: Connecticut Department of Labor

By Alicia Sakal

With Election 2014 just around the corner, and the gubernatorial race between Governor Dannel Malloy and Tom Foley in full force, the latest report released on September 30, 2014 by the Connecticut Department of Labor – Office of Research, entitled the September 2014 – Business & Employment Changes Announced in the News Media, is far from good news. The reason being, this report that is updated monthly and released to the public, unfortunately, continues to paint an extremely unhealthy picture of the Connecticut economy and the lack of any significant job growth.

The three companies announcing layoffs that will happen before the end of the year will total 475 jobs lost: REM Connecticut Community Services with multiple locations, 342 employee layoffs. Kmart is closing their Torrington location, 73 employee layoffs. Best Buy is closing their Meriden location, 60 employee layoffs.

Only three companies are reporting expansion plans in Connecticut within the year, for a total of 368 new jobs…

To read the full article on Examiner, go to: Company layoffs outnumber new jobs in Connecticut for September

Connecticut: The Danbury Career Fair is this Friday

Connecticut Job Fair

Photo By WCSU, Peggy Stewart,

Article By Alicia Sakal

If you or someone you know is looking for a job, then it is well worth the effort to go to The Danbury Career Fair on Friday, September 19th at the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury, Connecticut from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This job fair is well-established and the co-sponsors are The Connecticut Department of Labor, the Danbury Chamber of Commerce, Townsquare Media and the city of Danbury.

Now is your chance to meet in-person company representatives that are hiring all over Connecticut for many different kinds of positions and skill-levels.

Here’s a partial list of some of the companies recruiting…

Sagarsoft Inc.: Database Administrator, Programmer, Software Engineers, Application Developer

Ability Beyond: Counselor, Mental Health Worker/Aide, Nurse-LPN, Human Services Workers, Employment Specialist

Stamford Fire Department: Entry level Firefighter

Belimo Americas: Assemblers, Material Handlers, HVAC Technical Support Representative, Shipping Group Leader, Manager-Product Management, Manager-Marketing Americas, District Sales Managers and Regional Application Consultants

United Technology Aerospace Systems: Technical

Adam Broderick Salon & Spa: Stylist, Colorists, estheticians, Massage Therapists, Nail and Spa Therapists, Hospitality Coordinator, Reservation Specialist, Makeup Artist, Salon Intern

Townsquare Media: i95 Kicks 105.5 and Sports Radio: Account Executive

There will be food services, hospitality, retail, security, sales, banking and insurance industry job opportunities to explore as well.

For more details on free services being offered, along with some helpful job fair interviewing tips, please read my full announcement article on Examiner: The Danbury Career Fair is this Friday 

Connecticut’s startups, expansions and layoffs announced


Photo By jglazer75, Wikimedia Commons

Article By Alicia Sakal

The Connecticut Department of Labor – Office of Research just released the August Business and Employment Changes Report.  The list provided each month is by no means extensive and is only a sampling of activity when it comes to job growth and staff reduction trends in the state.

The latest layoff news:

Announcement came from Smiths Detection that they are closing the company’s American headquarters office, located in Danbury. This defense contractor is cutting 130 jobs in February because they are moving out of Connecticut and relocating to Maryland.

The job growth highlights:

Three manufacturers: Memry Corporation, TOMZ, and C. Cowles & Company announced both short-term and long-term job growth plans for this year and within the next 10 years. Collectively, they will create 165 jobs.

Dave and Buster’s, a restaurant arcade, will bring an estimated 200 jobs to the area with their new Manchester location in September. Walmart, too, is creating 80 more jobs in their Manchester store.

For Connecticut State Representative Richard A. Smith of the 108th District, who represents Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman and New Milford, this August update is not impressive because there are no major indicators that show Connecticut’s economy is improving significantly.

Richard thinks that the overall picture of the economy in Connecticut remains bleak. He stated: “Just totaling up the sampling of job gains and losses in the chart provided shows a significant net loss of jobs. Certainly, I am always happy to see job growth, but until we change the culture of over taxing, Connecticut will remain mired in a sluggish economy.” He also confirmed that “this report is just a snippet of activity and is by no means an exhaustive list of job gains and losses.”

The “chart” State Representative Richard is referring to that includes more detailed information about job losses, gains and expansions since last November can be found in this updated report:  Connecticut Business & Employment Changes Announced in the Media

Original article appears on Examiner: Connecticut’s startups, expansions and layoffs announced in August

Job searching: The summertime job hunting advantage


By Alicia Sakal

Many Americans take late summer vacations right before Labor Day weekend. If you are in active job search mode because you are an unemployed job seeker, or need to make a job or career change soon, then now is not the time to take a vacation.  Don’t let these lazy days of summer tempt you into putting your job search efforts on hold for even just a few weeks.

Now is the perfect time to be planning your job search strategy for the upcoming peak hiring season. You should update and refresh any outdated career documents such as your online resume and social media professional profiles.

The reason for doing so is quite simple. Many Human Resources (HR) professionals and recruiters aren’t sitting on a tropical island watching the tide roll in. In fact, they are typically starting their behind-the-scenes hiring ramp-up process now and through August.

It is important to also keep in mind that often times new employer and recruiter job postings go up a few weeks before Labor Day weekend.

As a job seeker, this is a golden opportunity to get a head start over the “other” job applicants who may be taking a late summer vacation or mental break from their job searching efforts.

Applying to jobs now, before the next peak recruitment cycle begins in September through early November, can also put you ahead of other job seekers in landing a job interview.

In other words, your chances of getting noticed by an employer or recruiter increases this time of year because there are less job applicants applying to the jobs you are going to apply to since they have taken a break.

Originally published on Examiner: Job searching:  The summertime job hunting advantage