February job losses mar slight drop in unemployment rate

Despite losing 5,700 payroll jobs in February, Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month as 7,600 more people left the labor force, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The jobless rate fell from 8.1 to 8 percent in February, marking the sixth consecutive monthly decline in the Nutmeg State.

Labor officials also noted that a major winter storm that caused business shutdowns and temporary closures may have skewed February’s numbers downward, leaving them optimistic that job growth trends could resume in the near future.

“Though our data can’t point at any specific regions or industry sectors that would confirm the winter storm hampered job growth in February, that result seems likely,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research. “On the plus side, we continue to see the state’s unemployment rate decline, if only at a modest pace.”

Still, eight of the state’s 10 employment supersectors lost jobs last month.

Unemployment 2-2013

Unemployment in Connecticut fell from 8.1 to 8 percent in February.

The only two job supersectors that enjoyed gains in February were government and manufacturing, which rose slightly.Other supersectors on the decline were: financial activities; trade transportation and utilities; information; construction and mining; leisure and hospitality; and other services.

The main reason the unemployment rate rose despite those losses is because the state’s labor force fell by 0.4 percent in February, down to just under 1.86 million.

The jobless rate reflects the number of employed workers as a percentage of the labor force — the sum of those with jobs and those on record as looking for jobs.

At times the unemployment rate improves because some of the longtime unemployed effectively leave the labor force and stop seeking work.

Just two of the state’s labor markets, Danbury and Norwich-New London, posted job gains. The Greater Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk markets all recorded losses.

Overall, Connecticut has now recovered 48,600, or 40.1 percent of the 121,200 jobs it lost during the last recession, which ran from March 2008 through February 2010.