Region suffers jobs setback

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The loss of 2,200 jobs last month in the Norwich-New London area nearly offset gains seen throughout much of the rest of the state, leaving Connecticut as a whole with only 1,000 more jobs than it had in April, according to statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The Norwich-New London area saw a nearly 2 percent slippage in its labor force last month, according to state statistics. Both total jobs lost and the percentage of slippage topped any other major labor region in the state.

No reason for the local losses was given, but a previous report by the University of Connecticut noted that hundreds of casino jobs were lost in the first quarter of this year.

"The state's economy has basically been moving sideways," said Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist at DataCore Partners LLC in New Haven, in a note to clients. "The lack of progress in the state's economy is starting to 'wear thin' for many."

But Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department's Office of Research, noted that the state's 2013 job gains represent the best five-month turnaround since the Great Recession ended in 2010. He also said the state's unemployment rate held steady at 8 percent.

"With the exception of a storm-impacted February, Connecticut has been experiencing consistent job growth so far this year," Condon said in a statement.

He added that for the first time in nearly three years, state residents are starting to join the labor force, a possible indication that people are more confident about finding a job. However, Klepper-Smith pointed out that there are still 30,000 fewer people in the state's labor market today than just a year ago.

"At the current pace, we're now scheduled to see full job recovery sometime in early 2016," Klepper-Smith said.

The labor report also noted that only four of the 10 major industry categories posted job gains in May. But a large gain of 2,300 jobs in the professional and business services sector helped offset smaller losses in other sectors.

The report noted that the state has gained 58,600 jobs lost during the recession, slightly less than a 50 percent recovery, much lower than the 72 percent job recovery seen nationally.

"The Connecticut economy has in fact been 'flat' for two years in a row," Klepper-Smith said. "And there appears to be very little likelihood that we'll be seeing strong growth anytime soon."

Professional and business services+2,300
Education and health services+1,700
Trade, transport, utilities+300
Other services+200
Financial activities-600
Leisure and hospitality-200
Source: Connecticut Department of Labor


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