State employee layoffs began to take their toll on Connecticut’s job market in September even as the unemployment rate improved Thursday.

The Department of Labor reported that Connecticut lost 5,200 jobs last month, including 2,900 from state government. The department also revised its August report from 300 jobs gained to 300 positions lost.

Still, Connecticut’s jobless rate fell from 5.6 to 5.4 percent. That’s because, despite the job losses, the state’s labor force – which reflects both the employed as well as those seeking work – rose by almost 2,000 people. The unemployment rate is a ratio based in part on the size of the labor force.

“Connecticut saw job losses in September for the third month in a row, and our three-month average of total non-farm jobs saw its first decline this year,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research. “However, market signs are mixed as the state’s unemployment rate continues to fall.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and the Judicial Branch combined have ordered more than 1,050 layoffs since mid-April, with about 80 percent of those job cuts coming in the Executive Branch.

Those reductions were part of a plan Malloy and the legislature embraced this spring to balance the 2016-17 state budget without tax increases.

Connecticut has added 5,000 jobs this calendar year and 12,800 jobs over the past 12 months. The latter figure represents growth of just 0.8 percent. And the September unemployment rate is one-tenth of 1 percentage point worse than it was one year ago.

Connecticut now has recovered 90,800 or 76.2 percent of the 119,100 jobs lost in the last recession, which ended in February 2010. This lags both the national average as well as the recovery in most states.

Connecticut’s private sector has recovered 99,900 jobs or 89.4 percent of the positions it lost in the last recession.

“Overall, we continue to make progress in Connecticut—increasing employment by 12,800 jobs over the last year. At the same time, there is more work to do,” Malloy spokeswoman Meg Green said. “That’s why it’s more important than ever that we continue to invest in growing the jobs of the future. Most recently, the historic deal reached with Sikorsky will support the growth of high-quality, good-paying manufacturing jobs with its promise to retain and grow 8,000 jobs, as well as benefit the hundreds of small businesses across our state that serve as suppliers.”

“A loss of 5,200 jobs last month is absolutely unacceptable for Connecticut families,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “The Democrats’ ‘new economic reality’ is an escalating downward trajectory for our state. They have failed to do enough to help our state reach its potential for job growth.”

Connecticut Business and Industry Association economist Peter Gioia noted September was the third consecutive month of job losses for the state.

“There are a lot of good things going on here in Connecticut and in our economy,” he said. “Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen the across-the-board job gains we desperately need. …We may now take over two more years to fully recover from The Great Recession, which is very problematic.”

Government was just one of seven major industry super-sectors in Connecticut to lose jobs in September.

Job losses also were recorded in: leisure and hospitality; education and health services, financial activities; information; manufacturing; and other services.

Three of the 10 super-sectors added jobs last month, led by the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which added 1,200 positions. Gains also were recorded in professional and business services, and construction and mining.

All four of the state’s regional labor markets lost jobs in September, with the largest decline, 1,200 positions, recorded in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk market.

Average hourly earnings in Connecticut last month were $30.35.

Connecticut's jobless rate compared to the nation's over time
Connecticut’s jobless rate compared to the nation’s over time
Connecticut’s jobless rate compared to the nation’s over time

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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