Region's job numbers can't keep pace with state's in March

Connecticut gained nearly 5,000 jobs in March, but the Norwich-New London area was not so fortunate, according to employment statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.


The region saw a one-month loss of 100 jobs in March, according to the new numbers, and the reduction of 2,200 positions over the previous year made it the only large labor market in the state to experience a downturn.


Still, the overall state increases gave officials hope that Connecticut jobs numbers would continue on an upswing following a difficult January in which more than 10,000 jobs were lost. Adding to positive expectations was the reported statewide jobless rate in March of 7 percent — unchanged from February’s rate, but down from 7.8 percent a year ago.


“March showed some solid signs of a return to previous job growth trends,” said Andy Condon, director of the state Labor Department’s research office. “Recovery-trend employment growth appears to be returning following the volatile winter.”


Pete Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, termed the labor report “very good.” He added that the state has recovered 65,000 jobs since the end of the Great Recession — nearly 55 percent of the total lost.


“It does seem to be picking up some steam,” Gioia said of the state’s economic recovery.


March’s labor figures showed an increase of nearly 400 compared with February among unemployed Connecticut residents, but the number of jobless was nearly 16,000 less than a year ago.


While the Norwich-New London region continued to lag in returning to pre-recession employment figures, the Hartford area saw an increase of 3,900 jobs last month, followed by a 1,900 gain in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk employment and increases of 1,300 in the New Haven area and 500 in the Danbury region.


March’s overall statewide employment increase of 4,900 was boosted by a revision of February numbers to reflect a gain of 1,400 jobs that month. That was 600 more jobs than the previous estimate had shown.


Don Klepper-Smith, an economist for DataCore Partners in New Haven, said the jobs report showed “some near-term momentum in the local labor markets.” But he cautioned about becoming too optimistic, saying in a note to clients that statewide employment is “still growing at a ‘snail’s pace’ after almost five years of economic recovery.”


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