Unemployment drops to 5.1%, but state loses jobs

Connecticut posted a contradictory jobs report Thursday for the second consecutive month, showing that the unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point to a post-recession low of 5.1 percent in October, despite the loss of 2,200 jobs.

First, the good news: Unemployment in the state has not been this low since March 2008, the start of the Great Recession that eventually claimed 119,000 jobs. And the state made a net gain of 24,100 nonfarm jobs in the past 12 months.

Now, the bad: Preliminary nonfarm employment estimates for October show a loss of 2,200 jobs. It was the fourth month this year in which a survey of businesses found a net loss of jobs.

“For the second month in a row Connecticut has shown job losses, possibly indicating a softening of the strong growth we have seen through August of this year,” said Andy Condon, director of research at the state Department of Labor. “However, our annual employment growth rate continues at a strong pace.”

The contradictory report stems from a reliance on estimates derived from separate surveys: unemployment is calculated from a residential survey, while job losses and gains come from businesses. Labor statisticians warn that both metrics are most useful when viewed over time, not month to month.

Since the jobs recovery began in February 2010, Connecticut has gained an average of 1,472 per month, with 46 months of gains, 21 months of losses and one month with no change.

All but 400 of the job losses recorded last month were in the public sector, which includes the two tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. They are owned by sovereign entities classified as governments.

The overall job losses in October demonstrates that Connecticut’s economy is still struggling to get on its feet, said Peter Gioia, chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

“Year over year, the state has added 24,100 jobs but this labor report is disappointing,” he said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy accentuated the positive: “We have now reached our pre-recession unemployment rate, a new and important milestone.  While this month is comparatively flat, we’re no doubt seeing positive signs.  We’re going to keep working each and every day to make even more progress and move Connecticut forward.”

Connecticut's unemployment rate over time

Connecticut’s unemployment rate over time

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