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The sixth straight month of job gains statewide - the first solid half year of employment boosts since the Great Recession ended - gave Connecticut officials hope Friday that July's numbers are a harbinger of better times ahead. But locally, employment continued its decline.
The employment increase also came with another reduction in the state's jobless rate, which fell one-tenth of a point to 6.6 percent last month. That's the lowest state unemployment rate since late 2008, but it's still significantly higher than the rate nationwide in July of 6.2 percent.
"This latest report is yet another sign that we are making steady progress in improving Connecticut's economy," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
"Connecticut experienced its first back-to-back June-July ... (employment) gain since the recovery began in early 2010," said Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor's Office of Research, in a statement. "This growth, along with continued declines in the number of unemployed, may be an indication that the moderate employment growth we have seen this year will be sustainable for some time."
The state gained 2,400 jobs in July, and June's numbers were updated to reflect a 2,200 employment boost.
But statewide job gains did not carry through in all markets, with the Norwich-New London area losing 400 jobs in July, according to the latest Labor Department figures. The local labor market is also the only one to lose jobs year-over-year, with 2,400 fewer positions available last month than during the same period in 2013.
"We remain on a path of modest expansion, but clearly lagging prior economic recoversies," said Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for DataCore Partners in New Haven, in a note to clients. "The Connecticut labor market is clearly underperforming not only the national recovery, but prior recoveries here in the state as well."
Klepper-Smith pointed out that the state has regained nearly two-thirds of the jobs lost during the recession, while the nation now has more people employed than before the downturn. He added that the state's projected real disposable income - dollars earned adjusted for taxes and inflation - is expected to be relatively flat this year, which would put a damper on the jobs recovery.
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Construction and mining +800
Other services +800
Leisure and hospitality +800
Education and health services +300
Financial activities UNCH
Professional and business services -100
Trade, transportation and utilities -100
SOURCE: Connecticut Department of Labor