The state added 6,400 jobs in May and its unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent, but the latest report from the Labor Department also includes a revision to their numbers to show the state lost jobs in April.
After originally reporting that the state added 1,200 jobs in April, the department adjusted the numbers downward by 1,800 positions to show a loss of 600 nonfarm jobs for the monthl.
But the governor’s office focused on more positive aspects of the report, claiming Connecticut has its largest labor force since 1976.
“Our efforts are focused on delivering long-term growth and prosperity, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to move Connecticut forward, because we believe everyone in our state who wants a job should have one,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
However, the state’s ability to grow jobs long-term may have taken a hit.
Don Klepper-Smith, a chief economist with DataCore partners in New Haven, said in an email that he’s concerned about the state budget that increases several business taxes and eliminates business tax credits.
Based on the budget, Klepper-Smith said that he scaled back his employment projections for 2015 and 2016 to average annual gains of 0.9 percent this year and 0.3 percent in 2016.
“[This is] well below our long-term average annual growth rate of 1.2 percent,” Klepper-Smith said.
The economist also expressed concern over the state’s “increasingly antagonistic policies” being directed at the business community.
“As a result we’re apt to see severe headwinds over the next year regarding meaningful and tangible job creation and I’m decidedly less optimistic than I was earlier in the year,” he said. “. . . In my view, competing states are now licking their chops at the prospect of luring key manufacturing jobs out of Connecticut and we’re headed down the wrong path . . . It’s inevitable, I think.”
Since the recession, Connecticut has recovered 97,800 positions, or 82.2 percent of the 119,000 jobs lost during the March 2008-February 2010 employment downturn.
“Connecticut year-to-date job gains are showing their strongest performance since the employment recovery began in 2010,” Director of the Office of Research Andy Condon said in a statement.
Seven out of 10 of the state’s super sectors saw an increase in jobs, the three strongest expansions coming in at the trade, transportation and utilities, construction and mining, and leisure and hospitality sectors, which added 3,200, 2,400 and 1,200 jobs, respectively.
The manufacturing, government, and education and health services sectors all saw a decrease in job growth, losing 100, 200, and 100 jobs respectively.
The private sector also increased jobs by 6,600.
As for the state’s unemployment rate, the current 6 percent is two-tenths of a point lower than the rate in April. This is the lowest the state’s unemployment rate has been since August 2008 — but that’s only if you’re using a rate that doesn’t count discouraged workers and those working only marginal amounts.
When those discouraged workers are added to the mix, the state’s unemployment rate would be much higher, but Connecticut’s Labor Department doesn’t calculate those numbers.
According to Klepper-Smith’s calculations, over the past seven years, the unemployment rate of the state’s five largest cities has dramatically increased: Bridgeport has gone from 4,673 to 6,592, Hartford from 4,391 to 6,019, New Britain from 2,387 to 3,194, New Haven from 3,910 to 4,986, and New London from 769 to 1,063.
In all, the number of unemployed in these five cities has increased by 5,724, or 35.5 percent.
“We now have 5,700 more unemployed workers in these five municipalities relative to when we were in the early stages of the national recession back in April 2008, up 35 percent!” Klepper-Smith said. “This is a remarkable statistic.”
However, despite the potential issues long-term, the governor’s office remains positive.
“This is very encouraging news for Connecticut’s labor force and our businesses,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said. “These numbers represent declining unemployment, more workers in the job market, and more jobs created throughout the state. But most importantly, today’s announcement speaks to the strong partnerships we are building in the business community and the commitment we’ve made to residents through expanded job training and employment programs.”