Connecticut gained 6,000 non-farm jobs in December, but its unemployment rate remained constant at 4.6 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Monday.

Over the 2017 calendar year, non-farm employment grew by 7,700 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The jobless rate reflects not only those employed, but also those deemed to be actively seeking employment.

“December job growth ended the year on a better note than in previous months,” said Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research at the labor department. The private-sector accounted for all of December’s job growth, adding 6,000 positions.

Connecticut now has recovered 91,000 of the 119,100 jobs it lost in the last recession, or 76.4 percent. The private sector now has regained 107,900 out of 111,700 jobs lost, or 96.6 percent.

“This is the first good news we’ve gotten in a long while,” Connecticut Business and Industry Association economist Peter Gioia said. “If those numbers hold up when the final report comes out in March, it will be a stark change from where we ended up in 2016.”

But Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners in Durham, warned that despite the December gains, Connecticut still has lost jobs in four of the last six months. It has gained an average of about 900 jobs per month since the post-recession low point in early 2010.

“The aggregate body of data continues to suggest in strong terms that full job recovery is not likely to materialize until sometime in mid-2020,” said Klepper-Smith, who was chief economic adviser to Gov. M. Jodi Rell. “In fact, we’re more apt to see the onset of a domestic recession before that time.”

Five of the state’s ten major industry super-sectors gained employment in December, led by professional and business services, which added 2,700 jobs. Gains also were recorded in: trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; leisure and hospitality; and education and health services.

Job losses were recorded in four sectors: construction and mining; financial activities; information; and other services.

The 10th super-sector is government, which remained flat.

Three of the six labor market areas added jobs in December, led by Hartford, which grew by 1,400 positions. The Norwich-New London-Westerly and Danbury markets also recorded gains.

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk market led with job losses, down 700 positions. Losses also were recorded in Waterbury and New Haven.

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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