Connecticut lost 1,300 jobs in March as its unemployment rate rose from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Labor officials also announced they’ve upgraded February’s job report from a 400-position loss to a gain of 400.

“With the March decline of 1,300 jobs the three-month average of job growth is now negative,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research. “However, annual job growth has actually improved as the first quarter of 2018 was very weak.” 

Private-sector employment shrank by 1,100 jobs during March but remains up by 7,300 positions over the past 12 months. Connecticut now has recovered 111,100 or 99.2 percent of the 112,000 private-sector jobs lost during the last recession, which ended in early 2010.

Public-sector jobs were down slightly — about 200 jobs — in March, and employment remains flat over the past year.

For the private and public sectors combined, Connecticut has recovered 96,600 or 80.3 percent of the 120,300 total jobs lost during the last recession.

Economist Donald Klepper-Smith with DataCore Partners, who was the state’s chief economic adviser under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said he believes — at this pace — Connecticut could not regain all jobs lost in the last recession until mid-2021.

Unfortunately, Connecticut also is at risk of falling into a “full-blown recession” by then, Klepper-Smith said, adding that “raises serious questions about the state’s fiscal health over the near-term.”

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association attributed the March job losses to the General Assembly’s “focus on costly workplace mandates and a reluctance to cut government spending.” The CBIA has opposed proposals from Gov. Ned Lamont and from Democrats in the legislature to establish a paid family and medical leave program, raise the minimum wage in stages from $10.10 per hour to $15 per hour, and to increase various state taxes.

CBIA economic adviser Peter Gioia said “people are reacting to these bills that will add significant costs and burdens to employers, particularly small employers across the state.”

Four of Connecticut’s 10 major industry super-sectors gained employment in March.

Financial activities gained the most positions, adding 700 jobs, while gains also were recorded in: trade, transportation and utilities; education and health; and other services.

Job totals in the manufacturing super-sector stayed flat in March.

Besides the government super-sector, losses also were recorded in March in: construction and mining; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; and information.

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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  1. In my opinion, this is just the beginning of job losses in the year ahead if the punishing business legislation is made law. Regardless, Democrat leaders have already marketed the state as a place to avoid to the business community.

  2. Because these numbers are based on surveys of businesses, they aren’t precise. But the conclusion that total jobs in CT are stagnant is supportable.
    Growth should have been likely. Defense contracts have been increased. Tax reform has brought a lot of money into the state, as confiomed by increased collection. The national economy is doing well, as confirmed in surrounding states.
    So what’s the problem in CT? True, CT is a high-cost, high-tax state. But so are surrounding states which have grown. Also true, CT does not have one of the (comparatively few nationally) high growth large metropolitan areas. And the prospects for the state’s cities aren’t promising.
    The most important factor is that the state is not the center of any industry but insurance and finance, neither of which can fully support a state economy. Like defense, insurance can grow anywhere, and CT’s high costs don’t make it necessarily the first choice. Finance is centered on a comparatively few firms which have to be encouraged to remain.
    If inertia weren’t helping, the situation would likely be worse.
    Maybe the most realistic answer is for the legislature to assume that it’s helping to manage slow decline. That’s not optimistic, but sooner or later it may be a necessary conclusion.

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