Wednesday the Connecticut Department of Labor launched a website that tracks statewide unemployment data from January 2015 to April 2020, and breaks down information on people who have filed for unemployment in the state by age, industry, gender, and town.

The website revealed that a total of all 647 new unemployment claims were filed by Wilton residents since Feb. 24, 2020.

According to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, the state released the information after first selectwomen/men and mayors requested that the state compile and provide the data.

Officials say the data will provide valuable insight to state and municipal governments as they prepare budgets for the upcoming FY 2021 and “for developing responsible strategies for re-opening the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wilton’s Board of Finance members have discussed the need to have such information as they consider setting the budget for next year, hoping to know how many residents may be facing economic difficulty as a result of job loss related to the coronavirus health crisis.

The information for April is very preliminary, due to the large number of unemployment claims being processed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s notable that the report only details initial claims, but does not represent ongoing claims.

In her nightly update Wednesday to town residents about Wilton’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, Vanderslice addressed the data. She called the numbers “sobering.”

The total of 647 new claims by Wilton residents “…  represents 7.7% of February’s labor force, of which 3.6% was unemployed. If those residents remained unemployed, the total incomplete unemployment rate for Wilton as of April 12th was 11.3%.”

The data stretches back to 2015 and shows that the pandemic has clearly caused a catastrophic event for Wilton.

Like much of the COVID case and testing data collected by the state during the pandemic, the unemployment data was released with some caveats:

  • Initial Claims are applications for Unemployment Benefits, and may not have resulted in the individual actually receiving those benefits if the individual doesn’t qualify.
  • While duplicates and “reopened” claims have been eliminated from the total counts, the claim counts may not match counts from other sources and are not considered final, given that there has been a processing backlog of 3-5 weeks and other online duplication errors.
  • Unemployment claims represent only one component of the unemployed. Claims do not account for those not covered under the Unemployment system (e.g. federal workers, railroad workers, or religious workers) or the unemployed self-employed.