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Region’s job picture may brighten, if only slightly

By Lee Howard

Published July 14. 2014 4:00AM
Last quarter of year may see small gains, with more in 2015

The Norwich-New London region is expected to see a slight uptick in employment in the final quarter of this year, followed by a more significant increase in jobs at the beginning of 2015, according to a new University of Connecticut economic forecast.

The summer edition of The Connecticut Economy quarterly, released today, shows that the Norwich-New London and Enfield labor markets were the only ones in the state to see decreases in employment over the past year. In southeastern Connecticut, the losses amounted to 1,900 jobs, largest in the state, though the unemployment rate fell.

Still, Norwich-New London’s jobless rate of 7.9 percent in the first quarter of this year was highest among the state’s major labor markets — about half a point above Connecticut as a whole. The report indicates that the region’s jobs situation may “make up for lost time” in the coming quarters and that “faster growth could carve another point off the jobless rate.”

Steven P. Lanza, managing editor of The Connecticut Economy, said in a separate analysis that the state’s labor situation took a hit in the first quarter of the year as severe winter weather led to a reduction of 6,400 jobs — “easily the worst of the recovery.”

Still, given an expected jump of 3.3 percent in the United States’ gross domestic product in the second quarter, he said the most likely scenario in the coming year is that Connecticut will add 8,000 jobs. Lanza pointed out that the estimated first-quarter job losses are hardly the final word in any case, as new estimates for the fourth quarter of last year — originally reported as a 2,700 decrease in jobs — now show a recovery of 3,300 positions.

In other reports inside the quarterly:

-- Connecticut was listed as the third-best state in the country for being female. The ranking was based on high scores for maternity leave laws, low teenage birth rates and high educational attainment, among other factors.

-- An analysis of minimum-wage laws showed that higher floors on pay historically have done nothing to close the earnings gap between men and women nationally. Surprisingly, Connecticut women’s earnings compared with men’s have consistently been below the national average over a recent 12-year period.

-- A listing of towns’ pay gender gaps showed women from Old Lyme making the closest amount to their male counterparts in town, while women from North Stonington make the least. Old Lyme women make 77 percent of what men make, while North Stonington’s female population makes less than half of their male counterparts.

l.howard@theday.com

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