Connecticut added 1,300 jobs in March

Connecticut gained an estimated 1,300 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate crept up to 4.8 percent, a tenth of a percentage point higher than last month, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

A previous estimate of 1,600 jobs lost in February was revised upward to a gain of 100 jobs.

“With March’s 1,300-job increase, we have seen job growth in each month of the first quarter, putting us ahead of last year’s pace,” Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research, said in a news release. “While the unemployment rate moved up to 4.8 percent, the labor force also grew, indicating workers are seeing opportunity in a low unemployment rate environment.”

The private sector added 1,200 jobs in March while the government “supersector” added 100 jobs. The supersector includes all federal, state and local government employment, including public higher education and southeastern Connecticut’s two tribal casinos.

In March, three of the state's six labor market areas were up, two were down and one was unchanged. The Norwich-New London-Westerly labor market area was among the "up" markets, adding an estimated 600 jobs. It is now the fastest-growing labor market area in percentage terms.

“We’ve seen job growth in each month so far this year, and we’ve gained 1,600 net new jobs year-over-year,” said Pete Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Gioia noted that Connecticut’s post-recession job growth remains the slowest of the New England states.

“Our job growth has improved, but it’s still behind that of other states,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction, and now it's time to pick up the pace to catch up with regional and national growth.”

Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist for DataCore Partners of Durham, said that after weak job numbers in January and February, the March statistics basically were in line with his expectations.

“To place the first-quarter Connecticut job numbers in context, consider this: Total non-farm jobs in Connecticut have eked out a 0.2 percent year-to-date rise, while the national growth rate in jobs is 1.6 percent for the same period,” he said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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