StatewideTechnology Project Unveils New WebsiteConnectVermont Project Includes Fiber optic, Wireless,Online InformationMONTPELIER– The project responsible for bringing wireless Internet access tohighway welcome centers; putting tourism information online; and bringingmotorists road condition reports now has its website.Officials saidthe ConnectVermont program’s new website at www.connectvermont.com(link is external)would not only help visitors and Vermonters learn more about its many high-techservices but provide another way to access them.“Thiswebsite really shows how the ConnectVermont project is making a difference inpeople’s lives,” said Robert T. White, who is the project’sdirector within the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “From vacationerslooking for a cultural event using wireless internet at a welcome center to aVermont trucker trying to find out road and traffic conditions, technology isworking for all of us.”ConnectVermontis a program coordinated by the Vermont Agencies of Transportation and Commerce& Community Development, and composed of partnering organizations withdiverse missions including arts & humanities, tourism, public safety,natural resources, and economic development.In addition towebsites for these purposes, the initiative includes wireless internet serviceat all of the state’s welcome centers as part of its mission toestablish an Advanced Rural Traveler Information service.In addition toan integrated system of web sites, interactive kiosks, and a 511 informationline, the ConnectVermont Program will eventually include a fiber optic“backbone” running along Vermont’s highway system that willfurther support traveler information and transportation needs as well as helpexpand broadband access around the state.“I wouldencourage all Vermonters to visit the ConnectVermont website to learn about howthat State of Vermont is making traveling to, in and around Vermont safer andmore convenient,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, who helped secure much ofthe $15 million in federal funding that has fueled the project.“ConnectVermonthas transformed the way visitors search for information about Vermont and ithas begun to transform the way Vermonters know about road conditions, trafficreports and other critical travel information,” Leahy said.11 ofVermont’s 20 information and welcome centers are now offering freewireless internet access, Governor Douglas said, and the remainder are slatedto be completed in the next year or so.“Thiscomponent of my E-State Initiative will provide free Wi Fi access for businesspeople, tourists, and all those who use our highways,” Douglas said.“The ConnectVermont site is a great way to track the progress of this andother related projects.”The northboundand southbound sites in Sharon, Williston, and Randolph are on line, as areGuilford, Fairhaven, Alburgh, Derby and Highgate.For moreinformation, please visit:www.connectvermont.com(link is external)### 30 ###
Generous provisions Applications for unemployment benefits peaked at 665,000 during the 2007-2009 recession, when 8.7 million jobs were lost. Economists say the country should brace for jobless claims to continue escalating, partly citing generous provisions of a historic $2.3 trillion fiscal package signed by President Donald Trump last Friday and the federal government’s easing of requirements for workers to seek benefits.As a result, self-employed and gig workers who previously were unable to claim unemployment benefits are now eligible. In addition, the unemployed will get up to $600 per week for up to four months, which is equivalent to $15 per hour for a 40-hour workweek. By comparison, the government-mandated minimum wage is about $7.25 per hour and the average jobless benefits payment was roughly $385 per person per month at the start of this year.”Why work when one is better off not working financially and health wise?” said Sung Won Sohn, a business economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.Last week’s claims data has no bearing on the closely watched employment report for March, which is scheduled for release on Friday. For the latter, the government surveyed businesses and households in the middle of the month, when just a handful of states were enforcing “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders.It is, however, a preview of the carnage that awaits. Retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s Corp and Gap Inc, said on Monday they would furlough tens of thousands of employees, as they prepare to keep stores shut for longer.According to a Reuters survey of economists, the government report on Friday is likely to show nonfarm payrolls dropped by 100,000 jobs last month after a robust increase of 273,000 in February. The unemployment rate is forecast to rise three-tenths of a percentage point to 3.8% in March.”A rough look at the most affected industries suggests a potential payroll job loss of over 16 million jobs,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in New York. “The loss would be enough to boost the unemployment rate from roughly 3.5% to 12.5%, which would be its highest rate since the Great Depression.”Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid jumped 1.245 million to 3.029 million for the week ended March 21, the highest since July 6, 2013 Topics : The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record high of more than 6 million last week as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession.Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department, the most timely data on the economy’s health, reinforced economists’ views that the longest employment boom in US history probably ended in March.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 3.341 million to a seasonally adjusted 6.648 million for the week ended March 28, the government said. Data for the prior week was revised to show 24,000 more applications received than previously reported, lifting the number to 3.307 million. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would jump to 3.50 million in the latest week, though estimates were as high as 5.25 million.”Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors, and country in order to slow the spread,” US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement.The United States has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, with more than 214,000 people infected. Nearly 5,000 people in the country have died from the illness, according to a Reuters tally.The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies. U.S Treasury prices were trading higher while US stock index futures pared gains.