Christian Chan via shutterstock

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut lost 3,400 jobs in the first three months of the year, according to a report from the Department of Labor.

The monthly job numbers show the state losing 1,300 jobs in March.

Pete Gioia, economic adviser to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he was disappointed at the ongoing job decline, and attributed the losses to proposed legislation.

He said the state legislature’s focus on costly workplace mandates and a reluctance to cut government spending were “continued barriers to investment, job creation, and economic growth.”

Even though the legislature has only approved one piece of legislation this year, Gioia said the proposals like Paid Family and Medical Leave and an increase in the minimum wage are creating uncertainty in the job market.

“People are reacting to these bills that will add significant costs and burdens to employers, particularly small employers across the state,” Gioia said.

“How many more jobs do we have to lose before the legislature changes its direction?”

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, fired back.

“The CBIA does not tell people that New York and Massachusetts have added tens of thousands of new jobs in the past year while offering paid family and medical leave and a $15 an hour minimum wage. They can’t reconcile that,” Osten said. “The CBIA doesn’t tell people that Connecticut’s private sector has recovered the jobs it lost during the recession while government employment has been significantly cut, on the order of thousands of people. They prefer that people not know those facts.”

The latest report shows that Connecticut’s private sector job growth which had reached expansion levels, is back down to 99.2% of pre-recession totals. When government jobs and jobs at the two tribal casinos are factored in, Connecticut has only recovered 80.3% of the 120,300 jobs lost in the 2008 recession.

The private sector shed 1,100 jobs last month while the public sector lost 200.

Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with Liberty Bank, maintained that the state’s economy will probably not see full job recovery until 2021.

“The odds are that both Connecticut and the nation are apt to be encountering a full-blown national recession prior to full job recovery in Connecticut, which raises serious questions about the state’s fiscal health over the near-term,” he said.

He said proposed family leave and an increase in the minimum wage should be evaluated carefully because it could have an impact on housing prices, which are down almost 3% year-to-date.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 3.9%. The national average is 3.8%.

It should also be noted that the monthly data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is based on a sampling method, rather than an actual count of jobs. During the course of the year each monthly report includes “preliminary” job numbers for the previous month, and “revised” job numbers for the month before that. Based on CTNewsJunkie’s analysis of the data for 2018, those monthly revisions suggested that the BLS had overestimated the total number of jobs in CT by a monthly average of just 258 jobs out of just under 1.7 million.

However, each year in April the BLS also releases “annually adjusted” job figures for the previous year, which further refine the monthly “revised” job numbers.

According to CTNewsJunkie’s analysis of the data, the employment figures reported each month based on sampling during 2018 were overestimated by an average of 6,542 jobs per month. That’s up from 2017, during which the BLS overestimated job totals by an average of 3,867 per month, preceded by overestimations of 5,425 in 2016, 19,342 in 2015, and 3,500 per month in 2014. In 2013, the BLS underestimated job totals in Connecticut by an average of 5,433 per month.

The sampling error is less than 1% of the total for all the years mentioned above except for 2015, when the error represented about 1.16% of the state’s total employment.