37,000 Connecticut workers quit in October, data shows

Photo of Alexander Soule
A FedEx employee delivers packages in early December 2021 in New York City. The second week of December, the company received a record 111,000 applications as it staffs up for the holidays and beyond.

A FedEx employee delivers packages in early December 2021 in New York City. The second week of December, the company received a record 111,000 applications as it staffs up for the holidays and beyond.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The rate at which Connecticut workers are quitting jobs eased in October, according to new federal estimates, but remain near historic highs as companies increased incentives to get staffed up for the holidays and beyond.

As many as 37,000 people in Connecticut served notice for October, according to surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That ended a three-month stretch when more than 40,000 people quit their jobs in Connecticut, including 45,000 who served notice in September.

Only once in the past decade — the summer of 2019 — had job quits topped 30,000 three consecutive months in Connecticut. On Thursday, the state Department of Labor reported a 6 percent unemployment rate, pulling Connecticut below the threshold that has allowed more than 20,000 people to receive extended benefits under federal guidelines.

Darden Restaurants executives said the company is budgeting 9 percent more for hourly restaurant worker pay until next summer. Darden chains include LongHorn Steakhouse, which is nearing completion of a new restaurant at Danbury Fair mall, as well as The Capital Grille, Olive Garden and Yard House.

“We probably struggle most in our lower-end brands, where your check average isn’t as high and your business models don’t afford you some of the luxuries ... from a pay-structure standpoint,” Darden CEO Gene Lee said Friday on a conference call. “I think that child care probably is still the biggest barrier today for people getting back into the workforce, but I think things are better than they were 90 days ago — and they are a lot better than they were 180 days ago.”

The day before, a Fedex executive noted the company brought nine new facilities online in November as the crush of the holiday shipping season intensified. Fedex saw a record 111,000 job applications come over the transom last week, which he attributed in part to the company offering higher pay, more time off with pay, and tuition reimbursement.

“We’re making a lot of progress here,” Raj Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx, said on a Thursday conference call. “We are essentially staffed up for peak, and we think that we can hold on to the required labor.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman