It was a contradictory monthly jobs report issued Monday in Connecticut: Unemployment fell to 5.2 percent in September, but the state also recorded a net loss of 7,600 jobs, the first drop in five months.

“September job losses were widespread, but annual job growth still remains relatively strong,” said Andy Condon, director of research at the state Department of Labor. “Some of the apparent decline is due to technical seasonal adjustment issues and does not represent actual job loss. This is particularly true in the education-related sectors.”

The monthly labor-market analysis by the state Department of Labor is a seasonally adjusted estimate based on two surveys, a household survey that measures unemployment and a payroll survey that counts jobs.

Condon said labor analysts adjust the monthly survey results to nullify losses or gains that occur every year at the same time, such as school bus companies adding drivers at the start of a school year. The goal is to produce a metric that allows meaningful month-to-month and year-to-year measurements.

Many school systems opened early this year, and Labor Day was late, potentially skewing the numbers, at least for the education sector. Jobs that analysts would expect to see added in September appear actually were recorded in August, he said.

“We think August was overstated and September was understated,” Condon said.

That does not explain the entire net loss of 7,600 jobs. The education and health services sector, one of seven so-called “super sectors” tracked every month, saw a drop of 3,500 jobs in September after a gain of 3,100 in August. The financial sector had a slight gain of 100 in September.

“There’s certainly no event I can point to in Connecticut that can justify it,” Condon said.

Condon said drawing conclusions from monthly changes is difficult. The labor market analysis is at its most useful over time.

“Year over year, we’re still doing pretty well, even with a drop in September,” Condon said.

Connecticut unemployment over time
Connecticut unemployment over time

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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