(Updated 2:56 p.m.) The last statewide jobs report before the Nov. 4 election was good news for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The report issued by the Connecticut Department of Labor showed that the state added 11,500 nonfarm jobs in September.
Malloy has been trailing his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, in public opinion polls on the issue of the economy, which 40 percent of voters said was the most important issue. So it’s no surprise that Monday’s news was welcomed by the incumbent governor.
“I feel gratified,” Malloy said Monday at Penn Global in North Branford. “It’s the highest single, monthly job number since 1993.”
He said Connecticut was in a “deeper hole” when the recession hit “and it’s taken awhile to get out.”
Foley’s campaign and the state Republican Party issued separate statements calling the jobs numbers good news, but not good enough.
“We are glad that Connecticut picked up jobs last month but it is still not enough. We have only recovered 70 percent of the jobs lost during the recession and we still have one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation. Our weak recovery is the result of Dan Malloy’s failed policies and things will not improve without a change of leadership and a new direction,” Foley spokesman Chris Cooper said.
With an average of 1,500 jobs gained every month for the past three years of Malloy’s administration, one economist finds it hard not to be suspicious of the latest job numbers, which could be revised next month after the election.
But Malloy believes there’s enough substance to the numbers that they will hold.
“We’re having the lowest, continuing to drop unemployment claims in recent history. It is consistent,” Malloy said. “Every year I’ve been governor the end of year review of these numbers has adjusted them upwards, not downwards.”
Withholding taxes paid by self-employed individuals and sales tax collections show the state is moving steadily forward, Malloy said.
But Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners, remained skeptical.
He called the numbers “wildly surprising to the upside” given the aggregate body of economic data he’s seen this year.
“The words ‘statistical anomaly’ first come to mind, and possibly raise some interesting questions that I haven’t even pondered yet,” Klepper-Smith said.
He said the number he is keeping an eye on is the year-to-date total nonfarm employment, which has only risen 0.6 percent “well below our long-term average annual growth rate of 1.2 percent witnessed between 1960 and 2013.”
On Monday, the Connecticut Department of Labor adjusted its August job losses from 3,600 to 1,200. All of the job losses in August were tied to local government and not the private sector, which gained 400 jobs that month.
The Labor Department reported that unemployment dropped from 6.6 percent to 6.4 percent.
“September employment numbers are very encouraging with strong gains in estimated payroll employment,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said. “Some of this gain was expected, especially in local public education and leisure & hospitality, where seasonal shifts may have been missed in August.”
Condon added that “both Connecticut’s nonfarm employment and unemployment rate are back to late 2008 levels. However, monthly sample-based labor statistics can be volatile in either direction and should be looked at in context of longer trends over several months.”
According to the labor report, September’s nonfarm employment gain was the largest monthly gain since April 1994. It also represents the seventh month of nonfarm employment gains this year. The only month in which the state saw an overall job loss was August, and according to the Labor Department, those jobs came out of local government.
When looking only at private sector job growth, September’s employment figures are the largest private sector gain since January 1993. Over-the-year, Connecticut has now added 24,500 private sector jobs, according to the report.
Connecticut has now recovered 85,300 positions, or 71.6 percent of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state during the March 2008 to February 2010 recession, according to the Labor Department.
The Hartford labor market gained the most jobs in September and the Waterbury labor market was the only one of the six job markets in the state to lose jobs. Waterbury lost 300 jobs and Hartford gained 2,700 in September.