Connecticut gained 900 jobs in November as the state continued its plodding, up-and-down recovery from the Great Recession of 2008, according to the monthly jobs report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor. The unemployment rate was 3.7%.
But the gains came after the loss of 1,400 jobs in October, and the longer trend is unchanged: The labor market remains tight, while growth is painfully slow — increasing by just four-tenths of one percent, or 5,800 jobs, from November 2018.
“Our three-month moving average job growth figure, designed to smooth out some of the volatility in our monthly numbers, has remained positive since July,” said Andy Condon, the research director at the DOL. “However, our annual growth rate in jobs remains very modest.”
The report is based on monthly business payroll and residential surveys by the U.S. Department of Labor. The loss of jobs in October, originally reported at 1,500 jobs was revised to 1,400.
Connecticut has structural problems that contribute to the slow growth, including an older workforce and a mismatch of available labor and jobs. Employers report difficulty in filling many semi-skilled jobs.
“Though Connecticut’s working-age population growth remains very slow, extremely low unemployment rates appear to attracting potential workers back into the labor force,” the DOL said. The number of unemployed residents seeking work was estimated at 71,00, up by 1,600 from October. As the result, the unemployment rate ticked up by one-tenth of a point from 3.6%.
The Connecticut unemployment rate was 3.8% a year ago. The U.S. rate in November was 3.5%, down from 3.7% a year ago.
Wage growth has been slow, though outpacing inflation. Average weekly pay in the private sector was $1,129.93, up 3.5% from a year ago. The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers was 2.1%.
The private sector is considered to be fully recovered since the recession. After losing 112,000 jobs, it now has gained 118,900. But the public sector, which includes the two casinos owned by sovereign tribal nations in eastern Connecticut, has lagged.
Overall, Connecticut has now recovered about 85% of 120,300 seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the recession from March 2008 to January 2010. It is the only New England state not to make a full recovery.
An economics consulting firm, Datacore Partners, says at the current rate of growth, Connecticut will not reach full recovery until the middle of 2021. Rhode Island, the second-lowest growth rate, has recovered about 126%. Massachusetts, the leader, is at nearly 360 percent.
Pete Gioia, the economic adviser to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said the jobs report and the Fiscal Accountability Report recently issued by the Office of Policy and Management paints a picture of a state still struggling.
“If you look at the state’s own figures on key economic indicators from 2010 to 2018, Connecticut lags every other state in New England, let alone the U.S. average, particularly in terms of jobs, GDP, and population,” he said.
The OPM report noted that not only is the recovery slow, but it has come with lower wages.
“Employment growth since the recession has, however, been skewed toward lower-wage industries, especially when compared to the jobs lost during the recession,” the report said. “Connecticut lost 54,300 jobs in higher-wage industries, but since only gained back 8,900. In comparison, Connecticut lost 39,400 jobs in lower-wage industries but gained 49,300 back.”