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Easton's Workers Seek Out 'Plan B'

The new trend in employment is people with jobs looking for backup plans, said Paska Nayden, a business coach from Easton.

Kevin Corti of Easton was working full time when he decided to start a business. He is starting up Easton Arborists LLC, a plant health care business. Corti has obtained the licenses he needs and is now working on a business registration number.

"I wanted to start the business because I knew when I was working at the larger company, they were charging $150 to $200 billable man hours, and I was getting paid one-tenth of that," said Corti. "It floored me. I knew I could make all of that money and pocket it."

At a recent Webinar, Nayden and her sister, Lena Gjonaj, also of Easton, found that 50 percent of the attendees had jobs and were concerned about losing them. Nayden and Gjonaj host a business networking group meeting every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until May 31 at the Easton Public Library.

"Small businesses fuel America," said Nayden. On average, it takes six to 12 months for a business to start generating income, she said. Many people opt to own a business but hire a manager while they work at a job and draw a salary elsewhere.

Corti said his dream would be to work as a firefighter and have Easton Arborists on the side. "That would be the crème de la crème," said Corti, who has been a volunteer firefighter in Easton for five years.

But many of the people currently unemployed face bigger problems than finding the dream jobs. The biggest problem in the job market is age discrimination, said Nayden. "People 45 to 50 years old are not finding a job. They're being told, 'Why would you take a lower paying job when you have too much experience.' That trend hasn't changed much," said Nayden.

Kevin Corti's mother, MJ Corti, was recently laid off from her job with an insurance company. "She's having trouble competing with younger people. She has the experience, but they know they can pay a younger person less," said Kevin Corti.

Gjonaj said the unemployment figures provided by the labor department are not all inclusive and the actual number is higher. "There is an uncategorized group – the group that has given up. They no longer collect unemployment and they still don't have a job," she said.

In their group, Nayden and Gjonaj see young adults who are right out of college, mothers looking to reinvent themselves, white-collar executives out of jobs and retirees.

"There was one student who graduated from Northeastern with a great GPA and couldn't find a job. Two months ago, he found an entry-level job in Boston," said Nayden. "May is around the corner and students will be graduating from college. ... I don't see a job creation rate in Connecticut to meet the demand."

She said some women are looking to find jobs because their husbands were laid off. And there are couples who both have lost their jobs. Easton's unemployment rate is 6.2 percent for March, with 231 unemployed out of 3,713 people in the labor force, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor's website. Connecticut's unemployment rate for March is 9.3 percent, with 174,900 people unemployed.

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