(Updated 1:30 p.m.) Connecticut lost 3,900 jobs in December, reversing the job gains it made in November, according to the latest information from the Labor Department.
The private sector lost 3,800 jobs, while the government sector lost 100 jobs in December.
The job losses reverse a 3,800 job gain the state experienced in November. At the same time the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent — its lowest point since February 2009.
Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said Monday that the week they surveyed employers about payroll jobs there was some winter weather that may have impacted the numbers.
“Connecticut’s payroll job counts appear to have been affected by bad winter weather around the time of the survey,” Condon said.
That means, for example, bus drivers may not have been working that week because school was closed. There was a corresponding drop in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities Supersector, which lost about 1,300 jobs in December.
“On a brighter note, the state’s unemployment rate continues to fall, and for better reasons than has sometimes been the case in the recent past,” Condon said. “Declines in the number of unemployed residents largely were the result of employment rather than individuals leaving the labor force.”
Connecticut’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm job growth through December 2013 has been 11,500 jobs or about 958 jobs per month. This is more than the 8,600 jobs gained in 2012. In 2011, the economy produced 14,300 jobs or about 1,192 jobs per month, and in 2010, the year the employment recovery started, the gain was 9,900 or about 825 jobs per month.
Connecticut has now recovered 59,400 positions, or 49 percent of the 121,200 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state in the March 2008 — February 2010 employment recession.
Connecticut’s jobs recovery is now 46 months old and is averaging approximately 1,291 jobs per month since February 2010. The private sector has recovered a little faster and has now regained 67,600 or about 59.3 percent of the 114,000 private jobs that were lost during the same period. The state needs an additional 61,800 jobs in order to be considered fully recovered, which most economists agree will happen in 2016.
“The aggregate data is simply saying that Connecticut’s job market is coming back inch by inch as opposed to yard by yard,” Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist at DataCore Partners, said. “The local politicians can spin it whatever way they want to, but any objective analysis of Connecticut’s job picture indicates ‘significant underperformance’ relative to historical norms.”
Klepper-Smith characterized today’s job loss as “disappointing given the fact that we’re in recovery mode.” But he added that “weather related factors probably did come into play.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has not said whether he is running for re-election, said Monday that he was anxious to see the adjusted numbers, which won’t be available until March. He said no one knows yet how many of the December job numbers are related to weather.
“It’s why we don’t trumpet, to any great extent, the month-to-month numbers,” Malloy said at the CT Works Center in New Britain.
“It is what it is,” Malloy added. “I wish it was something else but we are in the business of creating private sector jobs in the state of Connecticut.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he doesn’t think the labor department numbers are good news.
“Frankly, I think it tells a very different story than we’re hearing from the governor as he goes around and makes his various pitches,” Cafero said.
He said referenced a report by the Center for Economic Analysis that found Connecticut’s unemployment rate, which dropped Monday, would actually be higher if participation in the job market were the same as it was in the second quarter of 2010. He said the economists concluded the real unemployment number was closer to 10.7 percent.
The center found that about 65,000 working-age adults “simply stopped looking for employment during the last three years.”
“It doesn’t tell a good story,” Cafero said. “It doesn’t talk about a vibrant economy. It doesn’t talk about Connecticut being a place where jobs are being created daily, despite what the governor says.”