Labor report: State lost estimated 6,600 jobs in October

Connecticut’s employment outlook darkened in October, with preliminary statistics released Thursday showing the state lost 6,600 jobs that month.

September’s previously reported loss of 2,000 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 300 jobs, the state Department of Labor announced. The numbers come from business payroll surveys administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“October’s decline of 6,600 seasonally adjusted payroll jobs is not good news, but it is not as bad as it appears,” Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research, said in a statement. “Nearly half the decline comes from the very seasonal leisure and hospitality sector. This loss is exaggerated because the very high summer peak season employment levels were well ahead of last year. In the fall, employment levels returned to a more typical pattern, making recent job losses appear extreme.”

“On an annual average basis, Connecticut’s leisure and hospitality employment levels are well ahead of last year,” Condon said.

October’s job loss, the third decline in the last four months, leaves the state’s economy on the “edge of recession,” according to Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for DataCore Partners of Durham.

Connecticut has now lost 12,200 jobs since June, Klepper-Smith said.

The Department of Labor reported that private sector employment in the state fell by 5,600 jobs in October but remains up by 4,400 jobs for the year. The government sector, which includes all federal, state and local employment, including public higher education and southeastern Connecticut’s tribal casinos, lost 1,000 jobs in the month.

The number of the state’s unemployed residents fell by 1,500, while the number of residents employed fell by 6,400, resulting in an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, one-tenth of a point less than in September. Resident employment estimates include the self-employed and residents working out of state and are determined separately from the payroll job estimates.

In October, the labor market in the Norwich-New London-Westerly area remained unchanged from the previous month, according to the state's data.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a bright spot in Connecticut's economy — the defense industry — faces challenges as it strives to meet contractors’ hiring demands. Electric Boat in Groton has doubled its annual training budget to $40 million and is “scooping up workers trained by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board,” the newspaper reported.

Since its inception in April 2016, EWIB's Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative has placed more than 600 enrollees in jobs requiring training in welding, machining, pipefitting, design and sheet metal, according to John Beauregard, EWIB’s president and chief executive officer.

The pipeline project will honor state Sens. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, for their support of the initiative at a meeting Friday. The lawmakers were instrumental, Beauregard said, in securing $1.5 million in state funding to help sustain the program.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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