Connecticut added 3,200 jobs in August and the state unemployment rate reached its lowest point in more than seven years, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The state’s nonfarm employment totaled 1,698,900 last month. August marked the fourth consecutive month in which the number of nonfarm jobs grew, according to the department.
The state’s unemployment rate last month dipped to 5.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent in July and 6.4 percent in August 2014. Connecticut has not had an unemployment rate this low since May 2008, according to the department.
The national unemployment rate in August, by comparison, was 5.1 perecent.
“Connecticut’s estimated nonfarm employment growth pace and unemployment rates have come closer in line with national averages this summer,” Andy Condon, director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Research, said in a statement. “In August, earlier school openings and the later Labor Day holiday seemed to influence industry employment, earnings, and hours worked.”
As typically happens, some industry sectors grew last month while others shed jobs, according to the Labor Department data.
Among the sectors that grew from July to August, education and health services led the way, adding 2,500 jobs; government, including state and local, added 1,300 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities added 1,000; manufacturing added 500, and “other services” grew by 200.
Those gains were tempered somewhat by losses in the leisure and hospitality sectors, which shed 1,000; financial activity, which lost 700; construction, which lost 500; and professional and business services, which shed 100 jobs. Jobs in the information sector remained flat compared with July.
With last month’s gains, the state has recovered 104,900 jobs, or about 88 percent of those lost during the recession that took place from March 2008 to February 2010, according to the labor department.
“There is no doubt the needle is moving in the right direction,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “It’s good new and it demonstrates that our efforts over the past several years are truly paying dividends. Nonetheless, we must continue fighting for more good paying jobs with good benefits as we engage with companies like never before.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman added: “This report demonstrates just how important our work has been to expanding employment, attracting talent, and driving innovation. It’s a good trend for Connecticut.”
But while August’s numbers may be encouraging, it is important to look at broader trends and Connecticut’s lingering vulnerabilities, said Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research at New Haven-based DataCore Partners.
“I’m thinking about job creation heading into 2016, and the potential fallout from GE leaving Connecticut,” he said, referring to General Electric’s threat to move out of the state in light of new business taxes. “In my 35 years as a professional economist here in Connecticut, I can’t recall a time when business confidence was more threatened.”
The state is one of six nationwide where more businesses move out than move in, Klepper-Smith said, “and the situation as it now stands looks to become worse before it gets better.”
While Connecticut has recovered 88 percent of the jobs lost during the most recent recession, the United States has recovered 142 percent of the jobs it lost, noted Peter Gioia, vice president and economist at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.
“We’re not there yet,” he said with regard to a full economic recovery. Still, he said, “The August jobs report shows continued improvement and moderate growth.”
In Thursday’s report, the Department of Labor revised July’s previously reported gain of 4,100 jobs slightly downward to 3,800.