BRIDGEPORT - ? On the same day the state Labor Department announced the unemployment rate for Connecticut has hit 7.1 percent, a resource center opened for those who are unemployed.

More than 11,500 jobs were lost in December, but officials say there is now help for the unemployed. To help residents survive the recession, CTWorks announced Friday the opening of the first ever community resource center in southwestern Connecticut.

CTWorks already has resources to help people find free retraining programs, but now the center says it will also tell residents about available resources to help with housing, food and medical needs.

The center announced that it will also be giving away cash to needy southwestern Connecticut residents who qualify, thanks to a $150,000 donation from the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.

?It?s hard to find a job when you are hungry, when they are no lights on in the house, when you are worried about so many other things. So what we wanted to try to do was to figure out how to alleviate some of that stress,? says CTWorks employee Scott Wilderman.

Congressman Jim Himes says he will fight on Capitol Hill to receive federal dollars for more centers like CTWorks in Connecticut.

?The kind of comprehensive approach that this center is taking is how you actually improve families' lives,? says Himes.

Some economists expect Connecticut to lose an additional 65,000 jobs before next June.