Unemployment figures are higher in Connecticut than any time since 1977, and the number of jobs has fallen to its lowest point since 1998, a report by Connecticut Voices for Children and the Economic Policy Institute found.
Released the same day as reports showing that the national unemployment rate reached 9.7 percent, the highest since 1983, the report found that unemployment has increased in virtually all of Connecticut’s cities and towns.
When comparing numbers from July 2008 to those in July 2009, unemployment increases were highest in Plymouth, Thomaston, Union, Thompson, Torrington, Waterbury, Marlborough, Winchester, Pomfret, and East Hartford.
This past July, unemployment rates in cities like Hartford, Waterbury, and New Britain were between 11 and 13 percent, much higher than the state’s average of 8 percent.
“Patterns of unemployment growth in the state appear to have spread beyond urban centers, with unemployment rising more quickly in rural and suburban towns and even along Connecticut’s ‘Gold Coast’,” the report concluded.
Joachim Hero, a research associate who helped author the report, said towns that saw the biggest increases in unemployment may have been small by virtue of their population, however, the increases indicate the spread of unemployment away from urban centers.
Minorities, particularly African-Americans, experience higher unemployment rates than whites, both in Connecticut and the nation. In Connecticut, the average unemployment rate for African-Americans in 2008 was almost three times higher than the rate for whites and the average unemployment rate for Hispanics was two and a half times higher than the rate for whites, according to the report.
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Since 2001, wages have stagnated or declined for the bottom 50 percent of workers and the gap between very high wage and very low-wage workers is growing faster in Connecticut than in the nation, the report found.
Since the beginning of the recession in March 2008, the state’s greatest job losses have been in the professional and business services, construction, manufacturing, and retail trade sectors. The state’s largest sector – education and health – has experienced the greatest gains in employment, though jobs in this sector have stalled since March 2009.
Connecticut Business and Industry Association Economist Pete Gioia said Connecticut has been suffering right along with the rest of the nation when it comes to job losses.
“We’ve lost 76,000 jobs since the recession began in Connecticut,” Gioia said. However, there is good news on the horizon. Gioia said the increase in housing starts and manufacturing production means there will be an increase in jobs in the future.