The state’s unemployment rate cracked the 8 percent barrier for the first time in more than four years in September and October, falling to 7.9 percent despite more than 4,000 jobs lost, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

That’s down from an 8.1 percent jobless rate in August. Connecticut still lags the nation, which has a 7.3 percent unemployment rate.

Connecticut, like other states, did not report labor statistics for September one month ago. Those reports were blocked by the unavailability of key job data during the federal government shutdown.

“The September and October reports are sending mixed signals about Connecticut’s labor markets,” Andy Condon, director of the state labor department’s Office of Research, said Thursday. “The weeks leading up to the federal government shutdown, evidently, led to increased economic uncertainty and hiring indecision across the state. On a positive note, the state’s unemployment rate has declined for two months in a row.”

The unemployment rate last stood at 7.9 percent in Connecticut in April 2009, and the current rate is the lowest since the Nutmeg State began recovering jobs from the last recession in February 2010.

Connecticut lost 4,100 non-farm jobs in September and another 100 in October, the labor department reported. Still, the unemployment rate dropped because an even larger number of people stopped looking for work or otherwise left the labor force during that period.

Connecticut has added 10,000 non-farm jobs over the last 12 months. The private sector has gained 11,600 positions over that period, but that growth has been offset in part by cutbacks in the government sector.

Most job gains over the last month here involved the education and health services, construction and mining, and leisure and hospitality super-sectors. Financial activities and information sectors also posted small gains.

Besides the government sector, the trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, and manufacturing sectors lost positions in October.

“Overall, the report was disappointing,” said Peter Gioia, chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, who added the key sectors like manufacturing and financial services still have lost jobs overall over the past year. “This is something that’s a concern for the economy.”

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

Leave a comment