State’s economy still in a funk

A weak October jobs report Monday combined with the release of a quarterly survey of business executives that showed little optimism about future prospects provided more evidence that Connecticut’s economic recovery has stalled.

“We’re in a race to create jobs and we can’t get out of first gear,” said Peter Gioia, an economist and vice president of the 10,000-member Connecticut Business & Industry Association, in a statement released Monday. “There’s a widening gap in expectations for the state compared with the national picture.”

The CBIA released its quarterly economic survey Monday, showing that only 13 percent of executives believe the state’s economy is improving, while 25 percent see better times ahead for the nation as a whole. The third-quarter survey indicated 44 percent of executives expected the state’s economy to worsen, which is an improvement from 58 percent in the first quarter but is still a much more morose assessment than given to the national picture.

The survey meshed with statistics released Monday by the state Department of Labor that showed Connecticut’s unemployment rate rising a tenth of a point to 9 percent in October, compared with a national rate of 7.9 percent. The Norwich-New London area’s October unemployment rate of 9 percent — unadjusted for seasonal factors — compares with a rate of 8.2 percent at the same time last year.

The Labor Department also released numbers showing that the state gained 1,200 jobs in October compared with the previous month, but has lost 2,800 positions since October of last year — with 2,200 of those jobs coming from the Norwich-New London area. Last month, the region saw a decline of 600 jobs.

“It appears that job growth rates have been slowing over the last two quarters,” Andy Condon, director of the state Labor Department’s office of research, said in a statement.

The state’s reported September jobs gain of 2,000 was changed in the latest report to reflect a loss of 400 jobs after further analysis.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has argued during the past few months that jobs are growing — albeit slowly — and that a growing unemployment rate only means that people who previously had given up on looking for employment are now back in the hunt.

“If these conflicting results tell any single story, it’s that more people are attempting to enter the workforce because conditions are beginning to improve,” Malloy said in a statement.

Jobs are up slightly so far in 2012, with an estimated 1,400 positions having been added to payrolls, but growth is far behind last year’s pace of an additional 12,000 jobs in the first nine months.

“With October’s results, we are, for the first time, showing year-over-year declines in job levels,” Condon said. “However, we believe that when we complete our annual benchmark revisions in March, we will be showing as many as 8,000 to 9,000 more jobs in the state than the payroll survey currently indicates.”

The Norwich-New London area leads all other areas of the state in year-over year job losses. The Hartford labor market is the only other region in the state to have seen job losses over the past 12 months.

Connecticut as a whole is only about a quarter of the way toward recovering the 117,500 jobs the state lost during the Great Recession. Jobs that have taken the biggest hit include government-related positions, with 11,100 losses; financial activities, 4,200; construction and mining, 1,200, and manufacturing, 800.

“We are battling strong headwinds, both at the national level and in Europe,” Malloy said. “The more we learn about the Great Recession, the more we realize how long it’s going to take to get us out of it.”

l.howard@theday.com

 

Employment ups and downs

UP:

Leisure
and hospitality 2,200

Transportation
and utilities 1,900

Other services 500

Information 200

Government 100


DOWN:

Education
and health services 1,500

Financial activities 1,100

Professional and
business services 600

Manufacturing 300

Construction
and mining 200

Source: State Dept. of Labor

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