Connecticut’s unemployment rate cracked the 7 percent floor for the first time in five years in April thanks to the creation of 2,200 new jobs, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The jobless rate fell to 6.9 percent, down from 7 percent in March, its lowest mark since the 6.7 percent rate recorded in December 2008.

Nonfarm employment 5-15-14

April’s numbers also represented the third consecutive month of job growth. Connecticut now has added 6,900 jobs over the past year. The unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent 12 months ago.

“Both the establishment and household employment surveys are pointing to an improving labor market going forward for the state after extreme winter volatility,” said Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research. “The expanding labor force, growing private sector work hours, and diminishing unemployment are encouraging signs for Connecticut’s economy. Even though the pace of Connecticut’s employment recovery is moderate, it seems to be on solid footing.”

But there still were some signs of weakness in the state’s job market.

The private-sector workweek averaged 33.7 hours in April 2014, up 1/10th of 1 hour from April 2013. But average weekly pay last month stood at $938.21, down 0.6 percent over the prior year.

“The April labor report was moderately positive for Connecticut,” said Peter Gioia, chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

However, Gioia said, it should be noted that Connecticut is still behind in terms of economic growth as Massachusetts, New York, and the U.S. overall already achieved full recovery of jobs lost in the recession.

Even considering recent improvements in job recovery here, Connecticut isn’t projected to recover all jobs lost in the last recession until February 2017, Gioia said.

Six of the major industry super-sectors tracked by the labor department recorded job gains in April, topped by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 800 positions. Other super-sectors that experienced growth were: leisure and hospitality; education and health services; financial activities; construction and mining; and government.

Among the other four super-sectors, professional and business services saw the biggest decline, down 600 jobs. Other super-sectors to lose ground included manufacturing, information, and other services.

With Connecticut now 50 months into its recovery from the last recession, the state has recovered just over 70,000 of the 121,000 jobs it lost in that economic downturn.

Employment grew in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, New Haven and Norwich-New London labor markets. The Danbury, Hartford and Waterbury markets all were lower in April.

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.

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