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Forecast predicts state jobs gains of 15,000 this year

By Lee Howard

Publication: theday.com

Published March 19. 2014 12:00PM   Updated March 19. 2014 11:45PM

The Connecticut economy should grow at a moderate pace this year, creating about 15,000 new jobs, according to a forecast released today by the University of Connecticut.

The spring edition of The Connecticut Economy quarterly noted that the state lost 2,700 jobs in the fourth quarter of last year, though the Norwich-New London area bucked the trend, gaining 500 positions.

The report said, however, that statewide job losses were likely only temporary, reflecting "the end of a second wave of job gains" for the state that returned only about a third of the positions gained in the first wave's 46,000 job recoveries.

"The quarter's setback may slow Connecticut's momentum in coming months, but buoyed by expected strength at the national level, state job growth should resume in 2014," according to the quarterly forecast authored by Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of The Connecticut Economy and a UConn economist.

Lanza noted that Connecticut's labor force shrunk by 2,600 in the fourth quarter, but of the workers remaining 5,500 more were employed than had been the case in the previous three months.

Lanza's economic predictions were particularly uplifting for the New London area, which he described as "long-suffering." Predictive modeling showed that job losses were likely in the region through the first half of this year, but positions would be added in the final two quarters when set next to comparable periods.

"Further gains are in the offing," he said in the report.

The report also showed the New London area was expected to see a one-point reduction in its last quarter's 7.6 percent unemployment rate by the end of the year. This would place the region's unemployment-rate below that of both the New Haven and Hartford regions, though the Bridgeport labor market is expected to perform better than all three areas.

Other predictions for New London indicated that the region would see higher housing-permit activity until the end of the year, while home prices were expected to remain fairly steady overall.

Other issues explored in The Connecticut Economy included:

  • Whether raising the minimum wage makes economic sense.
  • How Connecticut increased the percentage of Medicaid-eligible children using dental services.
  • Whether corporations that practice responsible social policies pay an economic price.

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