Region keeps losing jobs, despite state gains

The Norwich-New London region lost 200 jobs in August and has shed 1,600 positions so far this year, by far the worst performance of any major labor market in Connecticut.

According to numbers released Thursday by the state Department of Labor, the only other area in the state to record a worse year-over-year employment setback was Enfield, with 500 positions lost.

Connecticut, on an economic roller-coaster ride so far this year, saw 6,000 job losses in August, according to the latest report. The losses 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.

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 budge, however, staying the course at 8.1 percent.

"Overall, we've added 14,300 jobs since the beginning of 2013," said Pete Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, in a statement. "That's a positive sign; I think overall we're going to continue on a positive rate."

The average pace of job growth over the past 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.

Still, the pace of job 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.

Job Trends

The sectors that gained or lost the most jobs statewide in August:

The gainers

+ 1,700

Construction and mining

+ 1,600

Trade, transportation, utilities

+ 1,100


The losers

- 8,300


- 1,700

Financial activities

- 700

Professional & business services

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