Employment Briefs

Fighting Fire with Firefighters

NEW HAVEN — The New Haven Fire Department is seeking to expand its ranks, and it will hold a series of open houses for area residents interested in becoming a firefighter. They will take place the following dates and locations: 6:30 p.m. February 28 at the New "http://traclabs.com/psd/buy//#generic_">generic Fire Academy, 230 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard; 6:30 p.m. March 1 at Hill Regional Career High School, 140 Legion Avenue; 6:30 p.m. March 4 at Fair Haven School, 164 Grand Avenue; and 6:30 p.m. March 5 at Hillhouse High School, 480 Sherman Parkway. Preliminary qualifications for applicants include being at least 18 years of age, and possession of a high school diploma or GED and a valid Connecticut driver’s license. For more information, call NHFD headquarters at 203-946-6300.


Equal Pay for Equal Work

HARTFORD — Gov. " /#here">here P. Malloy is making the state’s gender wage gap a priority. He’s announced that the state’s Departments of Labor (DOL) and Economic & Community Development (DECD) will jointly study variables contributing to the gap and, based on findings from the study, list recommendations by October of this year for abrogating the disparity. While a recent Institute for Women’s Policy Research study puts women’s pay at 81 percent of their male counterparts nationally, the same study shows that in Connecticut women earn on average only 75.8 percent of men’s wages. “The disparity in Connecticut is unacceptably high, and while this is a complicated issue, that cannot be an excuse for inaction,” said Malloy in a release. Added Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman: “A lifetime of earning less pay only means a smaller paycheck, but also means a retirement with less security for a woman and her family. That is a fundamental economic disadvantage that is clearly unfair and needs to be dealt with so women can better support their families today and retire on equal footing with men.”


Grant Fuels Medical Innovation

HARTFORD — Radiology technologists at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center will be trained in the correct use of two new “Laser Localizer” accessories for the hospital’s 9900 C-arms, a precision clinical imaging system, thanks to a grant from the Association for Medical Imaging Management and Toshiba America Medical Systems. The localizing "http://www.moral/buyonline click here significantly decrease the time of exposure to ionizing radiation for patients. CCMC’s health-care services include providing imaging and radiology to children, infants and adolescents to evaluate pediatric diseases. The Hartford facility was one of six hospital recipients throughout the country of grants of up to $7,500. “These grant enable health-care facilities to implement innovative programs that may not have been possible,” said AHRA President Carlos Vasquez.


UI Weathers the Storm

ORANGE — United Illuminating Co. staff did such a good job restoring power after massive electrical blackouts resulting from Hurricane Sandy that the company was given an Emergency Response Award for Recovery from the Edison Electric Institute. In a January press release, UI was praised for having 700 staff and contract field workers prepared to address the storm’s expected electrical impact, with special attention given to hospitals and emergency shelters. UI received the same award last year "http://medicaljustice.org.uk/files//#here">here well. EEI also awarded UI with a second accolade, its EEI Assistance Award, for sending crews to Maryland and Washington, D.C. in July 2012 to help utility employees there after drastically high winds caused power outages for more than 1 million customers. James P. Torgerson, president of UI and of its parent company, United Illuminating Holdings Corp., praised company employees in the release. “The fact that we have now been presented with three major awards from EEI in two years’ time is a testament to the hard work of our employees and our partners during the severe weather events of 2011 and 2012,” Torgerson said. “I am tremendously proud of the men and women of UI.”


GCC Hosts Education Summit

NEW HAVEN — Gateway Community College hosted 100 future leaders from colleges and universities across the state who came to the Elm City’s newest higher-learning structure to hone business, advocacy, community-building and other skills. The daylong ConnSCU (Connecticut State Colleges and Universities) leadership summit took place January 4 and was conducted by Tracy Knofla, who is nationally recognized as a leadership trainer. Knolfa is co-owner of High Impact training, a Minnesota-based training and development company. Students participating in the summit represented all of Connecticut’s 17 state colleges and universities. In addition to building individual skills, the event was intended as an opportunity for students from different institutions to network and get to know each other, state organizers.



State's Jobs Conundrum

WETHERSFIELD — Both the unemployment rate and number of jobs in Connecticut dropped in December, prompting Andy Condon, the state’s Department of Labor director of research to draw a causal conclusion. “The state’s trend of a declining labor force continues for the sixth month in a row and was the primary factor behind the declining unemployment rate in December,” Condon said in a release. “With the arrival of the December preliminary jobs report it is apparent that the rate of job growth slowed considerably in the last half of the year, however, we expect the level of jobs in the state to be revised upward when the benchmark is complete in March.”

The unemployment rate for December was 8.6 percent, 0.3 percent less "http://www.ninecakes.com/media/buyonline//#_no_prescription"> the previous month. Nonfarm jobs declined by 1,800. Hardest "/#_generic"> were the professional and business services supersector, declining by 1,400 positions, and the trade, transportation and utilities supersector, which lost 2,000 positions. At the other end of the spectrum the education and health services supersector saw an increase of 1,800 positions.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub: Bath Planet Cleans Up BRANFORD — When faced with a down economy, expand. Increase manufacturing. Hire more employees. Most CEOs might consider that advice counterintuitive. But it’s worked for Bath Planet Senior Vice President Rick Hir

BRANFORD — When faced with a down economy, expand. Increase manufacturing. Hire more employees.

Most CEOs might consider that advice counterintuitive. But it’s worked for Bath Planet Senior Vice President Rick Hirschhaut, who oversaw the opening of his company’s first licensed dealership in Connecticut last year. More are welcome, he says.

“When the world took a turn in 2008 in the economy, when a lot of people went into their cocoon, we doubled the size of our manufacturing facility and added headcount [staff] instead of reducing headcount,” says Hirschhaut.

The reason?

“We knew there was a wave coming and we wanted to be ready for that wave,” Hirschhaut explains.

That wave swelled towards the remodeling industry, which has been a very lucrative business over the past few years, says Hirschhaut.

Bath Planet — which specializes in bathing structures for people with limited mobility in addition to traditional structure — was launched in 2011, three years after the start of the recession. It was established under parent company BCI Acrylic Bath Systems, which has been around since 1999. Both BCI and Bath Planet are "//#there">there in Illinois.

“We set our target at 35 dealers by the end of 2012,” says Hirschhaut. “Today we’re at 93” dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada, he notes.

Last October, Brad Pompilli became the first Bath Planet dealer in Connecticut, offering Bath Planet products through his existing Tri-Stat of Branford, LLC remodeling company.

“We’re excited because the market for these is just unbelievable,” says Pompilli. “We’ve sold 14 of them and we haven’t even started advertising yet.”

The demand arises largely from older and/or injured customers who find it difficult to clear standard bathtubs, Pompilli says.

“I think this is almost a need item. You kind of need to have it. If you want to get in and out of your bathtub, you really don’t have a lot of choice,” he says.

That, and the “lack of housing starts” during the recession, adds Hirschhaut. “Our product has nothing to do with new construction. It’s all remodeling,” he says.

The cost to the consumer for typical bath or shower remodeling is $4,500 to $6,000, says Hirschhaut. A walk-in tub starts at around $12,000.

Depending on experience, existing infrastructure, marketing expertise and other variables, the cost to start a Bath Planet dealership can range from $20,000 to $200,000.

A budding entrepreneur or current business owner who’d like to catch the Bath Planet wave can find out more information at the company website, ">bathplanet.com, and clicking the Contact Us/Become A Dealer tab.

Helping Biz Prepare for Obamacare

Helping Biz Prepare for Obamacare"http://www.ninecakes.com/media/buyonline//#here">Employers are reminded that while the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) will be adopted in full in 2014, parts of it become effective in 2013. Now is the time for business owners and managers to educate themselves about their duties and responsibilities so they can incorporate the new mandate, notes the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the state’s largest business group.

“Kind of a hodgepodge of different regulations goes into effect, "site//#">. says CBIA Assistant Counsel Jennifer Herz, whose focus is health-care policy. It is confusing to a lot of folks, and that’s one "http:////#visit_us">visit us our concerns. "site//#">.


Jobs Picture Static

WETHERSFIELD — The state added a mere 100 nonfarm jobs in November, according to the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. That came as a surprise to office Director Andy Condon, who expected fallout from the late October snowstorm would include a spike in emergency-related jobs. In a release chronicling November’s employment statistics, Condon surmises, “It is possible that since much of the additional workforce [during and immediately after the storm] came from out of state, the additional jobs will be reported in their home communities.” Condon was more sanguine about Connecticut’s 8.4 percent November unemployment rate, calling the 0.3 percent drop from the previous month “[a]nother healthy decline.” Sectors adding jobs in November included professional and business services (1,300, or 0.7 percent), leisure and hospitality (800, or 0.6 percent) and manufacturing (300, or 0.2 percent). Sectors losing jobs included construction (-1,300 or -2.6 percent), financial activities (-600 or -0.5 percent) and transportation and public utilities (-400 or -0.1 percent).

Good Night, Irene

WETHERSFIELD — Hurricane Irene might have thrashed parts of the state, but needed restoration work after the storm is responsible for at least part of October’s improved labor statistics, according to Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. And because the figures were distorted by the natural disaster, the month’s lower unemployment rate and job gains could be fleeting, Condon cautions. “[T]he employment sectors that appear most responsible for October’s job growth seem to be related to demand for repairs driven by Hurricane Irene,” said Condon. “The strongest increases came from construction, temporary employment services, and services to buildings & dwellings. We would expect this type of job growth to be temporary.” The professional and business services sector added 3,000 jobs in October, construction added 1,500, the education and health services sector was boosted by 900 positions, as was the government sector, and 400 “other services” jobs were added. Construction had the highest proportional increase, with 3.1 percent. The total number of added non-farm jobs in October was 6,500, or 0.4 percent. Unemployment dropped to 8.7 percent, compared with 8.9 percent the previous month. The figures reflect a positive direction for Connecticut employment statistics for the second consecutive month.

Blumenthal Touts Jobs Plan

NEW HAVEN — U.S. Sen. Richard C. Blumenthal traveled to Gateway Community College November 14 to announce elements of his Pathways Back to Work Act, a bill he introduced which he says will offer both relief and training programs to individuals seeking work. The legislation would make $5 million available for a fund aimed at immediately creating jobs for unemployed adults; provide $1.5 billion for summer and year-round work for youth; and establish a $1.5 billion competitive grant program for businesses and agencies that offer work-related education and training programs for the unemployed. Calling long-term unemployment “a persistent problem that harms the middle class and economy as a whole,” Blumenthal said in a release that the bill will empower families and individuals in Connecticut by providing the skills and opportunities necessary to reconnect them with the workforce.

’Jobs’ Bill Sessions Slated

’Jobs’ Bill Sessions SlatedThe state’s Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) is hosting informational sessions throughout the state on specifics of the jobs bill. As many aspects of the new legislation impact small businesses, owners and administrators of small businesses are encouraged to attend. Dates and locations for upcoming “Reinventing Connecticut” sessions, each of which will take place 8:30 to 10 a.m., are December 6, New Haven Lawn Club, New Haven; December 14 at UConn/Stamford; December 19 at Clinton Town Hall; December 20 at Post University, Waterbury; December 22 at Three Rivers Community College, Norwich; January 5 at Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport; January 9 at Four Points Sheraton in Meriden; and January 12, Matrix Corporate Center, Danbury. The sessions are free, but space is limited and advance registration is urged. To reserve a seat, call 800-392-2122 or e-mail nrosenbaum@cerc.com. For information regarding additional sessions, check the DECD website at decd.org.

Optimism Tumbles in CFO Survey

A national survey of CFOs conducted by Chicago-based Grant Thornton, LLP, finds that economic optimism is plummeting as companies are scaling back hiring and increasing the prices or fees they charge for the products and services they sell.


Modest Sept. Labor Gains

WETHERSFIELD — While positive and negative state job growth over the past several months might curtail attempts to identify a predictable trend, the latest gain of 3,400 positions in September — along with a drop in the unemployment rate — is “good news,” according to Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. His optimism was grounded in caution, however. “While we hope to build on September’s job gains, we don’t yet see that pattern emerging in the Connecticut labor market,” Condon said. There was an even split among the  state’s ten major industry sectors, with half showing job gains. Those included government, leisure and hospitality, private education and health services, financial activities, and other services. Of the sectors posting employment declines, the construction sector showed the greatest number of job losses, with 1,600.  The unemployment rate in Connecticut fell to 8.9 percent, compared to 9 percent in August and a national September rate of 9.1 percent.

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