CT jobless rate unchanged despite gains in May

Nonfarm employment 6-19-14

Despite 5,800 jobs that were added to the Connecticut economy in May, the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.9 percent, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Seven of Connecticut’s 10 business super-sectors added jobs as the state now has added 12,500 positions since the calendar year began.

“Connecticut nonfarm job levels now exceed levels reached before the deep winter freeze set in during January, and are now at a new recovery high,” said Andy Condon, Director of the Office of Research. “At this point, the resiliency of the recovery appears to be bringing people back into the labor force.”

Despite those gains in May, though, the jobless rate didn’t improve.

“There’s actually a positive reason for that,” said Peter Gioia, chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “If you take a look at the labor force, we’ve seen a gain of 13,000 participants so that means more people are looking for work and because of that, you’ll have somewhat elevated unemployment.”

The unemployment rate represents the ratio of employed versus the sum of those working and seeking to work.

But Gioia said the latest report also raises some concerns.

Overall nonfarm employment statewide now stands at just over 1.66 million, the highest point since the last recession. And Connecticut now has recovered 71,600 of the 119,100 jobs it lost in what many economists call “The Great Recession.” That economic downturn ended more than four years ago.

But the national labor market has recovered all jobs lost, meaning most other states have grown employment faster than Connecticut has.

Gioia added he particularly is concerned that insurance, real estate and construction jobs in Connecticut continue to vanish.

The private sector overall in the Nutmeg State has recovered at a faster pace than the government sector – a trend common in most states as state and local governments shed jobs to help close post-recession budget deficits.

The private sector here has replaced 82,000 of the 112,000 jobs it lost during the last recession, the Labor Department reported.

The most job gains in May happened in the professional and business services super-sector, which added 2,300 positions.

Other super-sectors reporting gains were: trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; leisure and hospitality; government; education and health services; and other services.

The financial activities and construction and mining super-sectors lost jobs in May, while the information super-sector was unchanged.

The May job growth was divided unevenly across Connecticut with three of the six labor market areas reported gains and three experiencing losses.

The Hartford labor market led all with 5,700 new jobs, while the New Haven and Waterbury also reported gains.

The Danbury labor market posted the largest decline, dropping 300 jobs, while the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and Norwich-New London markets also reported job losses.

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