Stratford had its highest unemployment rate of the year last month, according to July statistics released by the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL).
A 10.4 percent unemployment rate is 1.5 percentage points higher than June's rate of 8.9 percent. In July, there were 25,368 Stratford residents who were employed, the lowest number in all of 2012.
Stratford's unemployment rate in July 2011 was 10.2, and Mayor John A. Harkins attributed the figure to the type of workforce in town.
"Stratford is a bedroom community with a number of residents who commute out of town for their jobs," Harkins wrote in an email. "Traditionally, this has tended to keep Stratford's unemployment number on the higher side."
Patch reader "max" attributed the high rate to something else.
"The average age of Stratford's unemployment reflects the 'baby boomer' component of town demographics," max . "Those over 50 are getting hit hardest by layoffs more than other workers. I know, I'm one of the 10.2 percent."
One thing that's different about last July's unemployment rate and this year's is how it relates to the statewide and national averages. In 2011, the statewide average was 9.2 and national rate, 9.1; in 2012, latest figures show a statewide average of 8.5 and a national rate of 8.3.
So why has Stratford's unemployment rate increased compared to 12 months ago and the state's and nation's decreased? Here's what readers had to say on the Stratford Patch Facebook page:
- Kip Steele: "Lack of skills and shifting of education to reflect that. We have a shortage of software developers in America. Time for Stratford to get in the game here."
- Angela Mooney: "Lack of jobs! I need one and can't find one!!!!!"
- Frank Kalakay: "Whoever keeps chasing the potential businesses and retail away from Stratford needs to realize it's not helping our town. Times have changed, and Sikorsky is our backbone. Many vacant buildings and lots in town can be used and help our town grow and become more stable. Maybe some tax breaks on these properties to bring in business.."
Here's a look at July 2012 compared to July 2011, according to statistics from the DOL:June July Labor force 27,899 28,320 Employed 25,413 25,368 Unemployed 2,486 2,952 Rate 8.9 10.4
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered the following in a prepared statement:
"The phrase 'worst economic downturn since the Great Depression' is used so often, we've become immune to the words. But they're true. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that pulling the country and our state out of that downturn is hard. Really hard. But let me be clear: we are making progress, and I have every confidence we'll continue to make progress."
Do you share the governor's confidence? Why do you think Stratford's unemployment rate is almost two full points higher than the state's? Share your thoughts in the comments below.