Unemployment trends before and after the 2008 recession. CT Department of Labor
Unemployment trends before and after the 2008 recession. CT Department of Labor

Connecticut gained 300 jobs in April as its unemployment rate dropped by a one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The department also revised the state’s job gains in March from 1,300 to 1,600, meaning Connecticut now has added 11,600 jobs over the past year.

“With the small increase in April and the larger positive revision of March data, the 2019 job growth picture has changed from one of slight declines to slight growth,” said Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research. “Annual job growth is actually stronger than last year at this time, as the first four months of 2018 were very weak.” 

“This is positive and welcomed news, but we cannot afford to take our foot off the gas,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a written statement. “When I speak with business leaders large and small, all across our state, I hear the same refrain: shore up our budget and fix up transportation system. We have the opportunity to do both this session, and I urge our legislature to make the smart choices to pass a balanced, gimmick-free budget and create a reliable and sustainable revenue source for our state’s transportation system to give businesses in our state the confidence to stay and grow, and allow us to attract other ones here.”

Connecticut’s private sector grew by 500 jobs in April, while the  public sector lost 200 positions.

The professional and business super-sector gained the most jobs in April adding 1,600, while gains also were recorded in: trade, transportation and utilities; education and health; leisure and hospitality; and other services. The largest job loss in April was in the construction and mining super-sector, which lost 2,300 positions. Losses also were recorded in manufacturing, financial activities, and government.

Connecticut now has recovered 98,500 or 81.9 percent of the 120,300 jobs in lost during the last recession, which stretched from March 2008 through January 2010. The private sector has fully recovered, having regained 113,300 or 101.2 percent of the 112,000 jobs it lost during the last economic downturn.

Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners, repeated his warning Thursday that Connecticut’s job market may not fully recover before the next recession arrives.

“Extrapolating this current growth out in time, we see that the state’s economy is not likely to see full job recovery until mid-2021,” said Klepper-Smith, who served as the state’s chief economic adviser under Gov. M. Jodi Rell. “The odds are that both Connecticut and the nation are apt to be encountering a full-blown national recession prior to full job recovery in Connecticut, which raises serious questions about the state’s fiscal health over the near-term.”

The private-sector work-week averaged 34 hours in April, with average hourly earnings at $32.76 — up 70 cents from April 2018.

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. Jobs are NOT economic growth. From 1997 to 2007 CT grew at a very solid 3% compounded annually in real terms–that is, measured as the value of output. But we had very little job growth. From 2008 to 2017 our economy SHRANK at almost a 1% annual compound rate, yet we added thousands and thousands of jobs, month over month. They were low quality jobs as we lost high quality jobs. In 2018, when job growth was modest, CT enjoyed the first year since 2008 in which its economy grew. It was modest growth, only 1% in real terms, but it is the best CT has done in more than a decade. Moreover, withholding on state income tax has been running well ahead of previous levels, suggesting that real growth is continuing.

    CT has stunningly poor data; it does nothing to track business dynamics, collecting no information whatsoever on what sectors companies work in (NAICS code), whether they have employees or revenue. All we know, all the Secretary of State collects, is the legal form of businesses–information that is essentially worthless. At least the Secretary’s website makes clear that if offers no useful information!

    The sad reality is that CT continues to fly (largely) blind, with little real time data on the performance of its economy and the dynamics of its business sector. The absence of good data means there is little on which to understand how we are doing and even less on which to base policy. Yet there seems to be little effort in Hartford either to improve the data so critical to good policy choices and, remarkably, even less to how to restore Connecticut’s economic vitality. Even with positive growth in 2018, CT has one of the weakest state economies in the nation, even as our neighbors are growing and prospering–even Rhode Island!

    1. Well said. Gov. Lamont, like former Gov. Malloy, is not focusing on CT’s decade long stagnant economy/employment. Rather, guided by the “CT political winds” he’s focusing on various tax schemes to fund the billion dollar CT State Budget. While that is not surprising given the importance of public Unions it does portend more years of stagnant economic/employment growth. And opens the door to further declines come the next national Recession. At day’s end CT’s State policies continue to focus on new taxes funding the Budget Deficit. While our long stagnant economy can wait to better days.

  2. The real story is not that CT added ~300 jobs in April or 11,600 jobs over the past year (even assuming those numbers hold up after the usual statistical revisions).

    The real story is not even that CT has recovered only ~82% of the jobs it lost ten years ago in the Great Recession, or that the income mix of jobs is deteriorating.

    The real story is that CT has not added any jobs in 30 years. THIRTY YEARS!

    CT has the same number of jobs today, ~1.7 million, that it had 30 years ago, a period during which NYC added ~1 million jobs and Massachusetts added ~0.7 million jobs.

    Over that same 30-year period, CT state spending has more than doubled.

    Meanwhile, the CT General Assembly is busy figuring out the best ways to increase taxes by another $2 billion to close the latest projected ~10% state budget deficit.

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