Jobs grow, yet unemployment hits 8.1%

Connecticut is adding jobs at a faster clip than last year, but growth flattened last month, and the unemployment rate edged slightly higher to 8.1 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The state added 500 nonfarm jobs in June, and the unemployment rate rose from 8 percent to 8.1 percent. The labor department’s research chief called both changes insignificant.

“These are not very large moves. Statistically, they are not moves at all, at least within the ability of our surveys to capture that,” said Andy Condon, the director of the Office of Research.

The department’s report of both job growth and higher unemployment reflects the fact that labor data is based on different surveys — one of households, another of businesses.

Also, the state can experience both job growth and higher unemployment when more people enter the labor market.

“That could be a little bit of what’s going on right now. Hard to tell,” Condon said.

Condon said the bigger picture shows relatively steady growth as the state and nation slowly recover from the recession.

“Are we moving in the right direction? We are, and it seems to, at least as far as this year, to be happening faster and better than last year,” Condon said.

The state averaged 1,800 new jobs every month in the first half of 2013, compared with monthly growth of 1,467 in the first half of 2012 and 917 over the same period in 2011.

The unemployment rate a year ago was 8.5 percent, but the state is not close to claiming a full recovery.

“Are we there yet?” Condon said. “The unemployment rate tells us we clearly are not.”

Connecticut now has recovered 58,700 of the 121,200 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs that were lost in the two-year employment recession that began in March 2008.

Peter Gioia, the economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said the numbers show the state is experiencing sustainable job growth at a slow rate.

“Overall, this is another positive jobs report,” he said.

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