Although Connecticut’s private sector employment rate is nearly recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, an overwhelming percentage of businesses say that they are being impacted by the state’s labor shortage. According to a survey produced by the Connecticut Business and Industry Alliance (CBIA), 85 percent of employers reported experiencing difficulty finding and retaining workers. 

A key finding of the survey is one that has been well-known by Connecticut residents for years: people simply cannot afford to live here. Thirty-three percent of the survey respondents reported that the state’s high living costs were the most pressing concern for employees and their families. 

Additionally, 83 percent of companies reported being impacted by supply chain disruptions, and more than half –56 percent– raised prices due to inflation. Nearly a quarter –24 percent– believed tax relief should be the main priority for the state’s governor and legislature, while 22 percent said state spending and pensions reforms were the top issues.

“Structural issues like affordability and high taxes that disrupted and derailed Connecticut’s recovery from the last recession remain real threats today—threats that cannot be ignored,” Chris DiPentima, CBIA president and CEO, said. “Solving the labor shortage crisis—our economy’s greatest threat—requires long-term sustainable solutions that will make Connecticut more affordable for residents and employers and unlock opportunities for all.”

However, while such an overwhelming percentage of businesses reported difficulty finding and keeping workers, just 29 percent of the survey’s respondents said they make their greatest investment in employee retention, up five percentage points from last year.

The CBIA released a list of policy solutions it says are designed to address the state’s cost of living woes and the labor shortage, but none of the recommendations address what people report is keeping them from returning to work.

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 33 percent of unemployed women who lost their jobs during the pandemic reported that the need to be home to care for children or other family members is what is keeping them out of the workforce. More than a quarter — 28 percent– of men indicated that their industry was still suffering and not enough good jobs were not available to return to work.

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Tom Hopkins wrote for CII from April 2022 to February 2023. Prior to joining CII, he worked in print, television, and as a freelance journalist.

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