Outta work.

Unemployment has risen dramatically, frighteningly, during the coronavirus crisis and economic lockdown, with thousands of Connecticut residents — and hundreds of Ridgefielders — filing for unemployment compensation in recent weeks.

“You look at unemployment at levels that might exceed the depression era,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said last week.

In March weekly unemployment claims had been a handful in Ridgefield — 3, 5, 7, 12 — going back more than a year, and had been ranging between two or three thousand statewide, suddenly jumped to more than 200 a week in Ridgefield and 40,000, 60,000, 70,000 a week across Connecticut.

Nationwide, unemployment figures are expected to exceed 16% during May.

Statistics kept by the state Department of Labor show that weekly unemployment claims by Ridgefielders hit double digits only 7 times in the 59 weeks from Feb 23, 2020 back to the week of Jan. 6, 2019. The high was 19.

In March the number of Ridgefielders filing for unemployment began climbing at an alarming rate:

  5 in the week of March 1;

  29 the week of March 8;

  200 the week of March 15;

  247 the week of March 22;

  236 the week of March 29.

The number dropped to 90 the week of April 5 and only 17 the week of April 12 — but the labor department acknowledges there may be a lag in numbers for the most recent weeks.

Scary numbers

It’s scaring town officials, as was evident during the Board of Selectmen’s budget discussions Wednesday and Thursday evenings, April 29 and 30.

Selectman Sean Connelly cited state Department of Labor statistics, saying there were “824 people who have filed for unemployment since March 1 from Ridgefield.”

“That’s approaching 1,000 households impacted by unemployment,” Marconi said. “That’s a substantial number when you’re looking at 9,400 residential homes in our community.”

Finance board chairman Dave Ulmer, listening in on the zoom meeting from home, emailed Marconi a calculation he’d done — Ridgefield was showing close to 9 percent unemployment, he said.

“Unemployment is somewhat representative of economic hardship, at least in the short term,” Ulmer said later.

Ulmer has tracked unemployment rates in his presentations at the Annual Town Meeting and the Board of Finance’s public hearing each budget season.

His tracking of the unemployment rate in Ridgefield shows it rising in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis from 3.8 percent to 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 percent om 2009, 2010 and 2011, then declining steadily — 5.6, 5.5, 4.7 back down to 3.9 percent by 2015.

Statewide upturn

This winter as the coronavirus crisis has gripped Connecticut, statewide numbers from the have shown sharp upward turn similar to the trajectory of the Ridgefield numbers:

  2,760 unemployment claims were filed across the state the week of Feb. 2;

  2,427 claim for the week of Feb. 9;

  1,836 for Feb. 16 week;

  2,083 for Feb. 23;

  2,301 for March 1;

  5,982 the week of March 8;

  77,604 the week of March 15;

  64,063 claims for March 22 week;

  46,207 the week of March 29;

  21,833 the week of April 5;

  7,808 the week of April 12.

First Selectman Marconi said he’d seen figures showing the total number of unemployed people in Connecticut was close to 430,000 as of mid March.

“On a 3.5 million population state, you’re running 15, 16 percent, pushing toward that 20%,” Marconi said.

“We’ve been analogizing to the 2008 recession,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark. “It’s not ever close!”

Looking back

The size of the unemployment surge in March 2020 is dramatized through a week by week look at the unemployment claims filed statewide across Connecticut, and in Ridgefield, going back through time from mid April 2020 to January 2019, as tracked by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

  4/12/20: Connecticut, 7,808; Ridgefield, 17.

  4/5/20: Connecticut, 21,833; Ridgefield, 90.

  3/29/20: Connecticut; 46,807; Ridgefield, 236.

  3/22/20: Connecticut, 64,063; Ridgefield, 247.

  3/15/2: Connecticut, 77,640; Ridgefield, 200.

  3/8/20: Connecticut, 5,982; Ridgefield, 29.

  3/1/20: Connecticut, 2,301; Ridgefield, 5.

  2/23/20: Connecticut, 2,083; Ridgefield, 5.

  2/16/20: Connecticut, 1,863; Ridgefield, 3.

  2/9/20: Connecticut, 2,427; Ridgefield, 5.

  2/2/20: Connecticut, 2,760; Ridgefield, 7.

  1/26/20: Connecticut, 2,648; Ridgefield, 12.

  1/19/20: Connecticut, 2,876; Ridgefield, 3.

  1/12/20: Connecticut, 3,350; Ridgefield, 9.

  1/5/20: Connecticut, 7,041; Ridgefield, 13.

  12/29/19: Connecticut, 3,013; Ridgefield, 6.

  12/22/19: Connecticut, 7,978; Ridgefield, 10.

  12/15/19: Connecticut, 4,045; Ridgefield, 5.

  12/8/19: Connecticut, 2,846; Ridgefield, 2.

  12/1/19: Connecticut, 2,822; Ridgefield, 6.

  11/24/19: Connecticut, 2,293; Ridgefield, 3.

  11/17/19: Connecticut, 2,541; Ridgefield, 4.

  11/10/19: Connecticut, 1,984; Ridgefield, 8.

  11/3/19: Connecticut, 2,152; Ridgefield, 8.

  11/10/27: Connecticut, 2,226; Ridgefield, 2.

  10/20/19: Connecticut, 1,910; Ridgefield, 2.

  10/13/19: Connecticut, 1,730; Ridgefield, 4.

  10/6/19: Connecticut, 2,213; Ridgefield, 4.

  9/29/19: Connecticut, 1,789; Ridgefield, 1.

  9/22/19: Connecticut, 1,487; Ridgefield, 4.

  9/15/19: Connecticut, 1,653; Ridgefield, 3.

  9/8/19: Connecticut, 2,013; Ridgefield, 2.

  9/1/19: Connecticut, 1,693; Ridgefield, 5.

  8/25/19: Connecticut, 1,647; Ridgefield, 2.

  8/18/19: Connecticut, 1,846; Ridgefield, 4.

  8/11/19: Connecticut, 2,056; Ridgefield, 7.

  8/4/19: Connecticut, 2,376; Ridgefield, 4.

  7/28/19: Connecticut, 2,232; Ridgefield, 9.

  7/21/19: Connecticut, 1,906; Ridgefield, 2.

  7/14/19: Connecticut, 2032; Ridgefield, 3.

  7/7/19: Connecticut, 4,079; Ridgefield, 14.

  6/30/19: Connecticut, 2,010; Ridgefield, 3.

  6/23/19: Connecticut, 3,733; Ridgefield, 3.

  6/16/19: Connecticut, 3,259; Ridgefield, 8.

  6/9/19: Connecticut, 1,929; Ridgefield, 5.

  6/2/19: Connecticut, 2,015; Ridgefield, 8.

  5/26/19: Connecticut, 1,590; Ridgefield, 2.

  5/19/19: Connecticut, 1,961; Ridgefield, 7.

  5/12/19: Connecticut, 1,938; Ridgefield, 6.

  5/5/19: Connecticut, 1,663; Ridgefield, 3.

  4/28/19: Connecticut, 1,882; Ridgefield, 8.

  4/21/19: Connecticut, 1,907; Ridgefield, 7.

  4/14/19: Connecticut, 5,499; Ridgefield, 7.

  4/7/19: Connecticut, 3,473; Ridgefield, 7.

  3/31/19: Connecticut, 1,630; Ridgefield, 3.

  3/24/19: Connecticut, 1,552; Ridgefield, 7.

  3/17/19: Connecticut, 1,713; Ridgefield, 3.

  3/10/19: Connecticut, 1,931; Ridgefield, 8.

  3/3/19: Connecticut, 2.353; Ridgefield, 1.

  2/24/19: Connecticut, 1,888; Ridgefield, 7.

  2/17/19: Connecticut, 2,199; Ridgefield, 3.

  2/10/19: Connecticut, 2,170; Ridgefield, 11.

  2/3/19: Connecticut, 2,808; Ridgefield, 8.

  1/27/19: Connecticut, 2,734; Ridgefield, 11.

  1/20/19: Connecticut, 3,024; Ridgefield, 13.

  1/13/19: Connecticut, 2,992; Ridgefield, 10.

  1/6/19: Connecticut, 7,759; Ridgefield, 19.

The source of the data on unemployment claims is the Connecticut Department of Labor.