State’s unemployment rate stabilizes after summer climb

After climbing dramatically in late summer, Connecticut’s unemployment rate appears to have stabilized in September, dropping from 9 to 8.9 percent as the state gained 2,000 jobs, the state Department of Labor reported today.

“An increase in jobs and a drop in the number of unemployed were positives for this month,” said Andy Condon, director of the office of research at the labor department. “Unlike the last two months, changes in the employment and unemployment estimates have returned to more typical levels. Because of the unprecedented employment changes reported in July and August, it may take several months for our unemployment rate to return to its prior trend path.”

Connecticut unemployent sep 2012

The jobless rate rose from 8.1 to 8.5 percent in July, then leapt to 9 percent in August. The latter was the largest one-month increase recorded in 36 years, according to the labor department.

Education and health services led the way in September job gains, adding 2,400 positions. Construction and mining was next, growing by 800 jobs, followed by information with 600, other services with 500, and financial activities with 200 positions.

Government led all job-losing employment sectors, dropping 900 jobs in September. This includes jobs at the two southeastern Connecticut casinos, which are run by sovereign Native American tribes.

Trade, transportation and utilities combined to lose 800 jobs last month while professional and business services were down 600 positions.

Connecticut has recovered 31,400, or 26.7 percent of the 117,500 non-farm jobs it lost during the last recession between March 2008 and February 2010.

“We’ve learned over the past few months that the economic crash of 2008 was worse than anyone realized, which is why it’s taking us longer to climb out of the hole than any of us would like,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wrote in a statement issued Thursday morning.

“But it’s also important to remember that we’re making some progress,” he added. “We are making smarter investments in industries that are poised for growth, such as bioscience, digital media and finance.  Long term, we will be in a better position to compete once the recovery really picks up steam.  And employers are telling us that they added 2,000 jobs this month.  These are all positive steps.”

Malloy was openly skeptical of the accuracy of the previous two labor department reports.

For example, the governor had noted that while the August report showed unemployment climbing rapidly, it also recorded a slight drop in the initial number of people filing for unemployment benefits that month, from 4,802 per week to 4,779. Also in August, the state had reported that income tax withholdings were up 3.6 percent after adjustment for inflation.

“Every month, whether it’s at the national or state level, we look to the unemployment numbers as an indicator of our overall recovery,” Malloy said Thursday. “For the last two months, that data has been questionable at best.”

Much of that data is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and the governor said that information “is being questioned in several states, by members of both parties.

“With the release of the numbers today, the only thing that’s any clearer is how conflicting the data continues to be.”