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State loses 6,000 jobs in August

By Lee Howard

Publication: theday.com

Published September 19. 2013 12:00PM   Updated September 19. 2013 1:57PM

Connecticut's economic roller-coaster ride after the Great Recession took a dip today with a jobs report that indicated the state's employment totals fell by 6,000 in August.

Today's report followed buoyant numbers released for July that showed a surge of 11,500 jobs in the first full month of summer, a gain that was revised down in the latest report to 9,600.

The Norwich-New London region saw a decline of 200 jobs between July and August, and the area has lost 1,600 positions over the past year, according to numbers released today by the state Department of Labor. That's the worst year-over-year record of any major labor market in Connecticut.

Analysts said August's employment slump had been expected. The late ending of the school year had artificially inflated the number of local government jobs reported in July, resulting in a recorded decrease of 7,500 jobs in that category last month.

"Connecticut continued to see growth in the private sector," said Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department's Office of Research, in a statement. "Connecticut's job growth pace appears to have picked up this year."

Statewide, the private sector added 2,300 jobs in August. The state's unemployment rate didn't budget, however, staying the course at 8.1 percent.

But the average pace of job growth so far this year is nearly double the increases seen in 2012. According to state figures, jobs have been rising by an average of nearly 1,800 a month so far this year, compared with 938 jobs a month last year.

Over the past year, the state has gained 15,400 jobs. Still, the pace of growth, at 0.6 percent, is well below the national 1.6 percent rate of job recovery.

"In effect, our labor market is now growing at less than half the national average," said Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with New Haven-based DataCore Partners, in a note to clients.

Klepper-Smith pointed out that Connecticut has recovered slightly more than half of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, far below the national recovery rate of 78 percent.

"We're still scheduled to see full job recovery in Connecticut sometime around late 2015, early 2016," he added.

Klepper-Smith predicted Connecticut's economy would wind up recording growth in the 1 percent to 1.5 percent range next year, the highest increase since 2007.

For now, however, Connecticut's economy is essentially flat, with small declines in gross domestic product over the previous two years acting as a counterweight to a fractional gain so far this year, Klepper-Smith said.

"There appears to be very little likelihood that we'll be seeing strong growth anytime soon," he said.

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