WETHERSFIELD — Nonfarm jobs in Connecticut grew by 4,000 for the month of November, according to the state Department of Labor Office of Research. In its monthly Labor Market Information report, the office noted that private sector jobs grew by 4,200. Conversely, government jobs in the state dropped by 200 from October to November, according to the report. The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7.6 percent, continuing a modest three-month trend. “A third straight month of unemployment rate declines is certainly good news,” said Office of Research Director Andy Condon, “though these declines are still occurring on a shrinking labor force.” Sectors with the highest job increase include Trade, Transportation & Public Utilities (4,700) and Educational & Health Services (3,300). The biggest decrease was in the Leisure & Hospitality sector, which lost 1,700 jobs between October and November.


WINDSOR — Hundreds of jobs and millions in investment dollars are what the town of Windsor and the state hope to gain when Amazon.com opens a new distribution center here.

“This will be the first Amazon distribution facility in Connecticut,” says Windsor Town Manager Peter Souza. He says planners are aiming for an opening during the first quarter of next year. The fulfillment center will distribute products throughout the Northeast, says Souza. “The target is to be able to provide next-day service.”

That consideration was one of the variables Amazon weighed when determining the location of its first Connecticut center, according to company spokesperson Nina Lindsey.

“There are a lot of contributing factors that go into our thought process as we decide where to place a new fulfillment center,” Lindsey explains. “Most importantly, we want to make sure a fulfillment center is placed as close to the customer as possible to ensure we can offer great service and fast shipping speeds to customers.”

Likewise, the workforce that would be needed was also a consideration, says Lindsey.

“We look at the workforce in the area we plan to place a new fulfillment center. We expect to find great talent in abundance in Windsor and we’re excited” to bring jobs to the area, she says.

About 350 jobs are expected to be created, notes Souza, adding that the online retail giant plans an overall investment of $101.4 million.

The town makes an effort to be attractive to companies such as Amazon through financial incentives that include tax abatements and reduced permit fees, Souza says.

“Windsor has built a reputation within the development community,” he says. “Our approval process is done in a rather efficient and timely manner. That’s by design. We’ve streamlined our process.”

Souza believes Windsor’s location and geography also are draws.

“We have good access to I-91 — transportation is a key thing — and large tracts of land that is flat land,” he says.

Compensation packages for employees will vary depending on the position, says Lindsey. For some, amenities beyond the standard wage, health insurance and 401K plan could be part of their package.

“On average we pay 30 percent higher than traditional retail jobs,” Lindsey notes. “Additionally, employees are eligible for comprehensive benefits that include health insurance, 401K and company stock awards. Amazon also offers full-time employees such programs as ‘Career Choice,’ where the company will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. Since the program's launch last summer, employees are pursuing degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.”

For more information about employment opportunities at the new Windsor facility, visit amazonfulfillmentcareers.com.

 While it’s common to hire temporary workers during the holidays, mangers are reminded that end-of-year seasonal workers must be treated with the same set of basic rules as other employees — including during the hiring process. There are certain interview questions that are considered taboo, for example. Among them are questions pertaining to religious practices, country of origin, marital status and whether the job candidate has children. When in doubt, consult with your company’s human-resources department, suggest experts. Your HR manager should be able to help you avoid questionable inquiries while still being able to obtain important job-related information. For example, if you think children might restrict a job candidate’s availability to work, simply ask, “What hours can you work?” experts suggest.

 NEW HAVEN — The Friends Center for Children, an early-childhood education center located in the city’s Fair Haven neighnorhood, is bringing a new class of employee into the school. Joining the teaching, administrative and educational support staff will be an in-school social worker specially trained to work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The job of the social worker will be to help detect and address the needs of children who have been exposed to adverse (traumatic) experiences such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; and household dysfunction such as substance abuse, mental illness or domestic violence.

The position is the result of a pilot program addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) implemented with support from the Community Foundation For Greater New Haven and the Carolyn Foundation. Friends Center is the first facility of its kind to integrate the program into its curriculum, according to the center. “Addressing Adverse Childhood Experience early in a child’s life is both more beneficial and more cost-effective than attempting to intervene later in life and can change a child’s future for the better,” said center Executive Director Allyx Schiavone. “As a cooperative center, where parents spend time each week in the classroom, parents of Friends Center children play a crucial parting this project, creating a positive impact in the classroom and in the family.” In keeping with school’s philosophy, the social worker will join with parents and teachers to work as a team to support personal, social and intellectual needs of Friends Center youngsters.

 STAMFORD — Newly elected Mayor David Martin is starting out his term by inviting local residents and other interested parties to apply for jobs with his new administration. He’s launched a website that, among other features, accepts résumés for his transition team to consider. “Reaching out and listening to the residents of Stamford should not end on Election Day,” said Martin in a release. “The launch of our transition website is one tool for us to engage residents as we move into these first months.” Martin, a Democrat, assumed office December 2 after besting three other candidates, including Republican opponent and former lieutenant governor Michael Fedele, in the November 5 election. Martin’s public service history includes seats on the city’s Board of Finance and its Board of Representatives. He succeeds former mayor Michael Pavia, a Republican, who did not seek re-election. To post a résumé for consideration to work in the Martin Administration, visit MartinTransition.com.

 WETHERSFIELD — “Mixed” to “disappointing” is how experts describe employment activity in Connecticut in the weeks immediately before and after this fall’s federal government shutdown. The 16-day work stoppage, which began October 1, resulted in widespread office and departmental closings, employee furloughs and project delays. The partial shutdown trickled down to state and local government agencies, including the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research, which delayed its monthly release of labor statistics. Because of that, figures for October and September were released simultaneously last month. The numbers show that the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent in August to 7.9 percent in October — the lowest rate for the state since the employment recovery started in February 2010, according to the report. However, employment in nonfarm sectors saw a decline between August and September (minus 4,100 positions) and a decline of 100 jobs between September and October. “The September and October reports are sending mixed signals about Connecticut’s labor markets,” noted Office of Research Director Andy Condon in a DOL release. “The weeks leading up to the federal government shutdown, evidently, led to increased economic uncertainty and hiring indecision across the state. On a positive note, the state’s unemployment rate has declined for two months in a row primarily driven by a reduced number of unemployed individuals.”


Remarking on the same statistics, economist Pete Gioia of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association said in a release, “Overall, the report was disappointing.” Taking a longitudinal view and pinpointing, for example, a decline of 3,500 jobs in the manufacturing sector and of 3,400 jobs in the financial activities sector since October 2012, Gioia was not optimistic. “This is something that’s a concern for the economy,” he said. In other sectors, since October 2012 professional and business services has added 3,000 positions, construction has added 5,500 jobs, and educational and health services 7,200 jobs. Overall, the state had a net gain of 10,000 nonfarm positions between October 2012 and October 2013, according to the report.

 NEW HAVEN — High-flying digital payment-services provider Higher One Holdings Inc. is searching for a new CEO since co-founder Miles Lasater announced he would be leaving the company January 9.

In a company statement Lasater, who co-founded Higher One in 2000 with Mark Volchek, cited “personal reasons” for his decision to step down as company president next month. He will continue to serve as chairman of the company’s board of directors through the next annual meeting of Higher One stockholders. The company says Lasater will also “continue to support certain key projects on a part-time basis.”

Higher One provides financial services and data analytics to more than 1,600 colleges and universities and approximately 13 million college students across the U.S. Last month it ranked No. 259 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Over the most recent five-year period Higher One achieved more than 340-percent revenue growth.

The Higher One board is forming a search committee and has retained the executive-recruitment firm of Spencer Stuart to head the search for a new CEO. In the meantime Volchek will continue in his role as chief executive, assume the duties of company president effective January 10 and remain on the board of directors.

“We have built a strong business with considerable growth potential, and during this process I will continue to lead it with the same energy and focus I have since co-founding Higher One 14 years ago,” said Volchek. “Bringing in a new CEO who has managed a company at the scale we have now achieved will bring a new level of excellence to our leadership, operations and responsiveness to today’s regulatory environment.”

“For the next chapter of the company’s growth and success, we seek a CEO who embodies the values upon which Miles and Mark founded and built this tremendous company,” said Paul Biddelman, a member of Higher One’s board of directors and chairman of its compensation committee.

For the most recent 12-month period Higher One generated revenues of about $204 million. Headquartered in Science Park, the company employs approximately 880.