Unemployment chart Nov 2014

A gain of 4,600 jobs in November wasn’t enough to stop Connecticut’s unemployment rate from ticking upward slightly in the state’s last report before the New Year.

The jobless rate rose from 6.4 to 6.5 percent, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, adding that the state has gained 25,700 jobs over the last 12 months — its best annual growth in 17 years.

“Connecticut’s recent string of healthier employment gains looks to be attracting more jobseekers into the state’s labor market in the lead-up to the holiday season, and holiday hiring appears to be above average,” Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research, said.

The unemployment rate reflects the portion of people employed within the labor force. And since the latter group is comprised both of those working and those seeking work, the jobless rate can worsen even as the state adds jobs – provided the number of unemployed seeking work grows by an even larger amount.

Besides the 4,600 jobs gained, November also showed some positive signs in terms of private-sector wage growth. Average hourly earnings stood at $28.81 in the private sector in November, up $1.21 per hour from November 2013.

“This report is another positive sign that we are making progress in our effort to create good-paying jobs with good benefits for residents,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.  “Labor force participation is up. We are seeing growth in nearly every sector of the economy.”

Five of Connecticut’s 10 major industry super-sectors gained jobs last month, led by professional, scientific and technical services, which added 2,800 posts. Other super-sectors experiencing gains included: trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; and other services.

Five other super-sectors lost jobs in November, though the losses were relatively small.

The information super-sector posted the largest decline, down 400 jobs. Declines also were recorded in construction and mining; manufacturing; education and health services; and government.

Five of the state’s six labor markets reported job gains, led by Hartford, which added 2,600 positions. The only decline was posted in New Haven, which lost 100 jobs.

Connecticut’s overall economic recovery since The Great Recession ended five years ago continues to lag the nation’s, though growth in recent years has matched or surpassed the national average.

Connecticut has regained 93,200 of the 119,100 jobs – or 78 percent of the jobs— lost in the last recession.

Compared to what’s happening in some other states and across the U.S., Connecticut still has a way to go,” said Peter Gioia, vice president and economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. “But now we are within striking distance of exceeding 100 percent recovery if we continue this pace over the next 12 months.”

“We have not been able to keep up with national improvements because Connecticut’s tax policies are wrong, the business policies are wrong and the attitude to the free market is wrong,” North Haven Republican Len Fasano, the new Senate minority leader, said. “We cannot over-celebrate today’s numbers because we still need to bring change to Connecticut policies. We owe that to the thousands of people struggling to find work every day.”

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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