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Greenwich Unemployment Drops, But Need Remains

GREENWICH, Conn. – The unemployment rate in Greenwich is down to just more than 5 percent. But Donna Spellman, program manager for a local job counseling service, says the number of people asking for work-related help is on the rise.

“It’s always been steady in terms of those who are lower income who have limited work history or educational history,” said Spellman, who runs Reaching Independence Through Employment , a program of Greenwich Family Centers. “Our numbers have drastically increased with those who have an impressive work history but because of bad luck have found themselves in this really difficult situation.”

Of Greenwich’s 30,427-member work force, 1,621 people were out of work in December 2011. That compares with 2,126 in January 2011, according to the state’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. That’s a 1.7 percentage point decrease over the year.

However, those who have been out of work for a long period of time are at a greater disadvantage, Spellman says. “Sometimes we have to ask people if they would consider taking a position that most of us would feel is somewhat of a step backward, so that they’re not unemployed,” she said.

The majority of people who seek help from the service are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they may have jobs but still have financial difficulty, Spellman says.

During 2010-11, Spellman says of the clients from Greenwich and Stamford who sought help, 83 percent found some level of employment within three to six months. “That’s not to say everyone who was lacking financially automatically became financially stable, but it’s a step forward,” she said.

Through the program, individuals receive vocational counseling in topics such as resume writing, adjusting to workplace environments, dressing for success and conducting a job search. “The other piece of it we’re about is job retention, particularly for someone who came to us unemployed. The question is: once they get employed, how do they keep it?” said Spellman.

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