Connecticut’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent in December, but the state finished the year with more jobs, according to the Labor Department.
The unemployment rate increased from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent in December at the same time as the state added 300 jobs. It was the first time the unemployment rate had increased since last February when it was 6.3 percent. It’s estimated there are about 99,000 Connecticut residents still looking for work.
And even though the private sector has recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession, the state is still 12,300 nonfarm jobs away from full-recovery, which analysts believe will happen in 2016.
Connecticut saw job gains in eight of the 12 months in 2015. That’s 1.6 percent growth in total nonfarm jobs for the year, which is the best annual showing since 1999.
“The bad news is we’ve seen considerably greater job growth in prior economic recoveries, and so expansion this time around can best be described as ‘lackluster and sluggish’,” Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with Datacore Partners, said.
Connecticut has now recovered 106,700 positions, or 89.7 percent, of the 119,000 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost during the recession.
The state’s private sector has recovered employment at a faster pace and has now recouped 114,600 or 102.7 percent of the 111,600 private sector positions that were lost in the recession. The government supersector, which includes the two Indian casinos, is still short about 7,900 jobs to reach pre-recession levels.
With eight out of 12 months in 2015 producing job gains, “it’s important that Connecticut not only continue job gains but even accelerate them, and we really need to make sure that we make the right public policy moves to encourage companies to invest and add jobs,” Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said.
He added that it was unfortunate that the unemployment rate rose.
“Basically we also saw a fairly weak labor force growth, which certainly affected the unemployment rate,” Gioia said.
On the bright side, Connecticut added 300 jobs in December.
“It looks like Connecticut ended the year with healthy annual job growth across industry sectors,” Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research, said.
Six of the 10 industry supersectors saw gains in December.
Gains were recorded in the “other services” category, leisure and hospitality, information, professional and business services, trade, transportation and utilities, and financial activities.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the latest jobs report doesn’t include the 800 new jobs that Electric Boat plans to create.
Malloy said good news like that continues to be overshadowed by the Jan. 13 news that General Electric is moving jobs to Boston.
“We’ve won jobs, we’ve lost jobs. On a net basis we’re 80,000 jobs ahead of where we were,” Malloy said. “On any given day, that’s a good day.”