April sees job growth in region, state; year still off

Connecticut gained 2,200 jobs in April and has now added 6,900 so far this year, according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The Norwich-New London region gained 500 jobs between March and April, the report said. But the region over the past year has seen a decline of 1,500 jobs, the worst labor-market performance in the state (the only other region with an employment decline over the same period was Danbury, with 100 job losses).

Connecticut's overall unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in April, a tenth of a point lower than in March and nearly a full point down from last April's 7.8 percent rate.

"The expanding labor force, growing private sector work hours and diminishing unemployment are encouraging signs for Connecticut's economy," Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department's office of research, said in a statement. "Even though the pace of Connecticut's employment recovery is moderate, it seems to be on solid footing."

Economist Don Klepper-Smith of DataCore Partners in New Haven said April's numbers were in line with expectations.

"The good news is that we're adding jobs in the state," he said in a report to clients Thursday. "The bad news is that after four-plus years of economic expansion, our growth rates are running at about half of what would be considered normal."

The report said Connecticut has been regaining jobs lost during the recession at a rate of 1,326 per month since February 2010. Employment recovery since the depths of the Great Recession has now reached 66,300 jobs in Connecticut, or 55.7 percent of the total lost.

Peter Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, noted that the state has added nearly 11,000 jobs over the past year. But economic growth has not kept pace with nearby competitors New York and Massachusetts, he noted, much less the United States as a whole, which already has seen a full jobs recovery.

"Even with higher pace of job recovery that we've seen in the last year, it takes us 34 months to achieve full employment. That's February of 2017," Gioia said in a statement.

l.howard@theday.com

Job gains and losses in April

Trade, transportation and utilities+800
Leisure and hospitality +700
Education and health services +700
Financial activities +500
Construction and mining +400
Government +400
Information -100
Manufacturing -200
Other services -400
Professional and business services -600

SOURCE: Connecticut Department of Labor

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