Watertown businessman Rich Dupont says he was trying to point out the urgent need for manufacturing jobs when he said at last week’s Republican primary debate the unemployment rate for the 5th District is 10.5 percent.

But did he mislead voters in the process?

Yes and no.

Strictly speaking, Dupont did not quote the official unemployment rate for the 41 cities and towns in northwestern Connecticut and central parts of the state, which is 5.9 percent, according to the latest U.S. Census estimate.

In spirit, he was closer to the mark, he later said, because he was quoting an alternate labor market measurement used by the federal government known as U-6, which includes underemployed workers along with the jobless.

By that measure, 9.6 percent of workers statewide cannot find full-time jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I know the unemployment number is just under 6 percent, and I wasn’t trying to mislead anyone,” said Dupont, one of three Republicans running in the Aug. 14 primary to replace U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty. “But because our answers were timed, and I didn’t have the time to explain what went into the U-6 numbers, I didn’t want it to be confusing.”

It turned out to be confusing anyway. Dupont said he was challenged by a few people after Monday’s debate in Torrington that his figure was too high.

Connecticut’s statewide unemployment rate is 4.5 percent.

Dupont is running against retired psychology professor Ruby Corby O’Neill of Southbury and former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, who earned the Republican endorsement at the GOP convention in May.

Democrats are also looking to a mid-August primary to decide who will run for Esty’s seat in November. Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, is running against former longtime Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, who was endorsed by Democrats in May.

Esty, a three-term Democrat, is not running for re-election because of her role in covering up an office abuse scandal.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

More Information

By the numbers

5th Congressional District

Unemployment rate — 5.9 percent

Unemployed and underemployed rate — 9.6 percent

Sources: U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018