Although many New Haven residents are concerned about unemployment, most are unclear on how Governor Dannel Malloy and gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley plan to tackle the issue.
Combating unemployment in Connecticut — where the unemployment rate of 6.6 percent is seven-tenths of a point higher than the national average — has found its way to the center of both candidates’ platforms.
As Malloy gears up for the gubernatorial election on Nov. 4, he has proposed several measures to increase businesses’ ability to hire, including providing tax credits to small businesses and expanding the Small Business Express Program, a state program that provides small businesses with loans and grants. Foley, meanwhile, has compiled a seven-point plan that includes improving access to jobs in suburban areas and distributing municipal and state-funded jobs to people of minority backgrounds.
But even though this year’s gubernatorial election is among the closest in the country, the candidates’ plans have failed to garner much attention amongst New Haven voters.
Of 30 New Haven residents surveyed, 20 had not heard about the candidates’ plans to tackle unemployment, but many of those same residents surveyed felt that the state is not doing enough to create new jobs.
Of those who have been paying attention, neither plan appeared particularly attractive. Several New Haveners, including John Gehm, Jr. — who owns a hamburger cart in New Haven — equated this election, particularly in terms of candidates’ plans for unemployment, “to choosing between the lesser of two evils.”
Tom Knowlton, who was recently unemployed for two and a half years, noted the lack of incentives for companies in Connecticut to stay here as a major unemployment issue.
“They are all leaving and we have no jobs,” he said.
Malloy’s main talking points about unemployment and underemployment for this election include plans to provide $20 million dollars in new tax relief for small businesses and increasing funding for science and technology startups.
He also has emphasized his ability to maintain a balanced budget this year as evidence that he will be able to successfully fund his new programs.
“I am not satisfied until every Connecticut worker who needs a good paying job with benefits has one,” Malloy said at a press conference on Sept. 16. “That’s why I want to continue Connecticut’s progress with these proposals to help train unemployed workers and help small businesses grow and expand.”
Malloy has also pointed to the fact that Connecticut’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in the past five years.
Despite the fact that both candidates have listed unemployment as a critical issue in this election, several residents noted that neither plan is concrete.
Yale College Democrats President Becca Ellison ’15 said that Foley has been vague about his plans for unemployment, and avoids getting into specifics.
Others raised concerns that without raising taxes — as Malloy claims he will avoid — it is unlikely he would be able to subsidize small businesses further. Malloy has not specified on his campaign website how he plans to fund efforts to stimulate the economy.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Haven’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent.