Region sheds 300 jobs in December

Continuing its weak labor-market performance in 2013, the Norwich-New London region lost 300 jobs in December, according to numbers released this morning by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Connecticut job totals declined 3,900 December, but the state’s unemployment rate fell two points to 7.4 percent — lowest in nearly five years. It was the fourth consecutive decline in Connecticut’s jobless rate, and Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said the number fell last month for a “better reason” than it has in the past.

“Declines in the number of unemployed residents largely were the result of employment rather than individuals leaving the labor force,” he said in a statement.

Condon noted that December’s jobs decline reversed a 3,800 gain seen in revised November numbers. He blamed bad winter weather for part of the decline.

Norwich-New London’s job losses compounded the weak labor market seen throughout much of last year. The region lost a total of 900 jobs during 2013, and was one of only two major labor markets in Connecticut — the other being Waterbury — to experience declines.

The state as a whole added only 11,500 jobs over the course of the year, a fractional gain that is much lower than during traditional economic-recovery periods.

Last month, only two of the main labor sectors added jobs, while seven saw declines. Throughout the year, education and health services experienced the biggest boost in employment, while manufacturing took the biggest hit.

The job losses in December mean that Connecticut has now recovered less than half the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. This compares with a recovery level of more than 80 percent nationwide.

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