The state Department of Labor will lay off dozens of employees to account for "a significant budget shortfall" that "appears too great to resolve with the current staffing levels," an agency spokesperson said Tuesday.
DOL communications director Nancy Steffens points to a lack of federal funding as the aggravating factor and said the agency is considering consolidating or closing offices.
This year's federal funding shortfall is about $28 million, according to Steffens, who said the deficit is expected to climb to $32 million next year. A federal hiring freeze is already in place, but Steffens said it isn't enough.
The DOL hasn't specified how many workers may be affected, but according to a letter sent Tuesday from local AFSCME leaders to union members, up to 95 jobs could be cut.
Employees being laid off will be notified no later than Aug. 19, before the new federal budget year starts Oct. 1, the AFSCME says.
"It was clearly stated to management how disappointed we were with their inability to keep offices open and members employed," AFSCME Local 269 President Xavier Gordon and Vice President Marsha Tulloch wrote in the letter, adding that they hope to decrease the number of layoffs and help affected employees find jobs at other state agenices.
Steffens said other states with federally funded unemployment programs are dealing with similar problems and have already laid off employees.
The Connecticut DOL weighs heavily on federal dollars, receiving 90 percent of its funding from the federal government. About 700 of the agency's 800 employees are federally funded.
"The Feds have their own problems. They're trying to curtail in a rational way, in this particular case, as the unemployment rate goes down and there really hasn't been, I think, adequate thought on the part of the state to budget for the Department of Labor," said David Cadden, professor of business at Quinnipiac University.
"Several hundred" federally funded employees have been cut over the past few years, according to Steffens.