State’s jobless rate creeps up slightly to 9 percent

Connecticut's unemployment rate rose marginally in October, climbing to 9 percent despite 1,200 new jobs added last month, the state Department of Labor reported Monday.

The latest numbers also show a stabilizing of the jobless rate, which has hovered at or around 9 percent for much of the fall after a volatile summer. The rate rose from 8.1 percent to 9 percent between June and August before dropping to 8.9 percent in September.

"It appears that job growth rates have been slowing over the last two quarters," Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research at the labor department, said Monday. "With October's results we are -- for the first time -- showing year-over-year declines in job levels."

The state job market has lost 2,800 jobs since October 2011 for a 0.2 percent decline. The latest report represents the fourth month of job gains in 2012 set against five months of losses and one month with no change.

But Condon added that he believes that once the final 2012 numbers come in and have been analyzed, Connecticut will have gained ground over 2011.

"We believe that when we complete our annual benchmark revisions in March, we will be showing as many as 8,000 to 9,000 more jobs in the state than the payroll survey currently indicates," he said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has been openly skeptical of the accuracy of the previous labor department reports since this summer, said Monday that some of the latest numbers "are once again pointing in opposite directions.

"On the one hand, we created 1,200 jobs this month," Malloy said. "But on the other, our overall unemployment rate increased slightly. If these conflicting results tell any single story, it's that more people are attempting to enter the workforce because conditions are beginning to improve."

The state's leisure and hospitality super-sector recorded the most job gains in October, adding 2,200 positions, followed by transportation and utilities, which added 1,900.

Education and health services recorded the largest decline, down 1,500 jobs, while financial activities lost 1,100 positions.

Overall, Connecticut has recovered 30,200, or 25.7 percent, of the 117,500 nonfarm jobs it lost during the last recession, which ran from March 2008 to February 2010.

Four of the state's six major labor market areas -- Hartford, New Haven, Danbury and Waterbury -- recorded job growth last month. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and Norwich-New London markets recorded losses.

"The bottom line is this -- a slight change in either direction should only serve as a reminder of the important work we have left to do to turn our economy around," Malloy said. "We are battling strong headwinds, both at the national level and in Europe. The more we learn about the Great Recession, the more we realize how long it's going to take to get us out of it."