State employment on upswing at year's end

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Connecticut gained an estimated 1,100 jobs in December after adding 1,000 jobs in November, according to statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

Original estimates for November indicated 500 jobs were lost that month.

The state’s unemployment rate was 4 percent in December, falling one-tenth of a percentage point over November’s rate. The number of unemployed residents, estimated at 76,200, declined by 1,500 over November. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent last month.

“The December jobs report ends the year on a high note,” Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research, said in a statement. “Preliminary numbers indicate that we saw job growth in almost every major industry sector in the state’s labor market. Unemployment fell five-tenths of a point since December 2017.”

Condon cautioned that revisions in the annual jobs numbers, which will be completed in March, have been revised downward in recent years.

Over 2018, nonagricultural employment in the state grew by 19,900 jobs, an increase of 1.2 percent.

Connecticut has now recovered 93.5 percent of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the Great Recession, which lasted from March 2008 to February 2010.

“The December job gain, combined with November revisions, provided us with some surprising near-term job momentum to end the year,” Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for DataCore Partners, wrote in his monthly newsletter. “The revised data show we ended the year with three consecutive monthly job gains, which exceeded my expectations given current labor market fundamentals. We've now averaged about 1,050 jobs per month thus far in recovery, but 2019 definitely poses challenges as the risks of a possible domestic recession are becoming more apparent with each passing month."

The labor department reported that six of the 10 major industry supersectors gained employment in December, while four declined. Construction and mining led growing sectors with 2,100 net new jobs. Education and health services was next, adding 1,100 jobs. Leisure and hospitality contributed 500 new positions, while trade, transportation and utilities added 400 and information grew by 200 jobs. Financial activities added 100 jobs.

Declining sectors included professional and business services, which lost 1,800 jobs; “other services,” which lost 700; government (all federal, state and local employment, including public higher education and casino employment on tribal land), which shed 500 jobs; and manufacturing, which lost 300 jobs.

Three of the state’s six Labor Market Areas experienced job gains in December and three saw declines, including the Norwich-New London-Westerly area, which lost 300 jobs.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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