HARTFORD, CT—Connecticut finally got some good news Thursday. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent and the state grew 2,100 jobs in November, according to the Labor Department.
It’s the first month of job growth following five months of job losses.
Also the 7,200 jobs Connecticut lost in October was revised upward by 1,400 to a smaller loss of 5,800 jobs. That means over the past five months Connecticut has lost 11,400 jobs.
The even worse news might be that over the last 12 months, the state increased non-farm employment by 1,400 positions or 0.1 percent, according to the Labor Department.
“Recent months of payroll job counts may indicate a significant slowing of the state’s job growth,” Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, said. “While there are circumstances, such as demographic shifts, increased self-employment and growing out-of- state commuting, where these two movements can happen at the same time, we do not yet have data to support a definitive trend.”
Connecticut has still only recovered about 72 percent of the jobs it lost in the Great Recession. In order to fully recover it will need to add 33,400 jobs.
Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners, said he believes “we’ll see a full-blown domestic recession before then, which implies that the job high of 1,713,300 set in March 2008 isn’t likely to be reached anytime soon.”
In November, private sector employment increased by 1,200 and remains up by 2,500 jobs over the year. The government supersector grew by 900 jobs last month, but remains down over the year by about 1,100 jobs. The government supersector includes all federal, state and local employment, including public higher education and casinos located on tribal land.
Klepper-Smith described the job gains in November as “a small step in the right direction, offering a short-term reprieve, but despite November’s job gain we’ve still seen significant and widespread job losses, down by 11,400 jobs over the last five months”.
However, there’s also a sense that the Department of Labor revisions for 2016 will show larger job losses. The job gains Connecticut made in 2015 were cut in half after they were adjusted.
Klepper-Smith said the recent trends in non-farm employment are a major concern. He said “persistent weakness in CT’s labor markets has to be addressed from a policy standpoint.”
But what those policies may be are anyone’s guess at this point.
“What’s open to question are the various policy initiatives before us and how we get there in a very changed political landscape, both nationally and in Connecticut,” Klepper-Smith said.
He said the “pronounced lack fiscal discipline around state and local finances continues to be cited as a primary concern by many businesses.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday that he’s committed to ending the “bad financial practices in to get the state’s fiscal house in order.”
He said he looks forward to working with the business community in order to give Connecticut “the predictability we need to make smart investments and continue creating good paying jobs with good benefits for the residents of our state.”
Pete Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he’s pleased with the positive “nudge in job numbers,” and with the unemployment rate reduction. However, “the underlying concerns outweigh those when you take a look at the year in review,” he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do, and the economy must remain the number one priority for lawmakers, Gioia added.