Econ­o­mists op­ti­mistic over state job gains

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Luther Turmelle lturmelle@nhreg­is­ter.com @LutherTurmelle on Twit­ter Call Luther Turmelle at 203680-9388.

Con­necti­cut’s econ­omy added 1,300 jobs in March, the state Depart­ment of La­bor re­ported Thurs­day.

Con­necti­cut’s econ­omy added 1,300 jobs in March, the state Depart­ment of La­bor re­ported Thurs­day, even though the un­em­ploy­ment rate edged slightly higher.

The em­ploy­ment gains the state econ­omy achieved in March wasn’t the only good news Con­necti­cut of­fi­cials got. Fe­bru­ary’s loss of 1,600 jobs was read­justed to a 100-job gain, ac­cord­ing to state la­bor of­fi­cials.

“We have seen job growth in each month of the first quar­ter, putting us ahead of last year’s pace,” said Andy Con­don, di­rec­tor of the state’s Of­fice of Re­search.

Con­necti­cut’s un­em­ploy­ment rate edged up 0.01 per­cent to 4.8.

The big­gest em­ploy­ment gain dur­ing March came in leisure and hospi­tal­ity sec­tor, which added 1,100 jobs. The big­gest de­cline in em­ploy­ment for March came from the pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices sec­tor, which lost 700 jobs last month.

New Haven was one of two la­bor mar­ket ar­eas in the state that saw a de­crease in jobs last month. The Bridge­port-Stam­ford-Nor­walk La­bor Mar­ket area lost 1,300 jobs while the New Haven re­gion saw 200 fewer work­ers em­ployed last month than in March 2016.

The Hartford la­bor mar­ket area led the state with 3,000 new jobs added last month and south­east­ern Con­necti­cut’s econ­omy con­tin­ued to re­bound with a gain of 600 jobs, buoyed in part by a hir­ing surge at Gro­ton-based de­fense con­trac­tor Elec­tric Boat.

March’s job gains gave two of the state’s lead­ing econ­o­mists some rea­son for optimism.

“We’ve seen job growth in each month so far this year, and we’ve gained 1,600 net new jobs (0.1%) year over year,” Pete Gioia, an econ­o­mist for the Con­necti­cut Busi­ness & In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, said in a state­ment.

More im­por­tantly, Gioia said, were some of the in­dus­tries where the job growth came in last month.

“Three key in­dus­tries saw job gains last month — man­u­fac­tur­ing, fi­nan­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, and in­for­ma­tion,” he said. “Those are all high-pay­ing jobs and that’s very im­por­tant,”

Con­necti­cut has now re­cov­ered 77 per­cent of the to­tal jobs the state lost dur­ing the re­ces­sion, but still has job growth that lags be­hind the other five states in New Eng­land.

Don­ald Klep­per-Smith, chief econ­o­mist and di­rec­tor of re­search for New Haven-based DataCore Part­ners, said that while the cur­rent U.S. eco­nomic ex­pan­sion is al­most eight years old, “a re­ces­sion is not a fore­gone con­clu­sion.”

“The out­look for 2017 is clouded with un­cer­tainty, but will be a func­tion of pro­posed tax cuts, emerg­ing trade poli­cies and pos­si­bly a new wave of pro­tec­tion­ism as well as pro­posed spend­ing on na­tional in­fra­struc­ture, and more roll­backs on fed­eral gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions,” Klep­per-Smith said. “The Con­necti­cut econ­omy is con­tin­u­ing on a path of very mod­est ex­pan­sion thus far in 2017 and is fac­ing ma­jor eco­nomic and fis­cal chal­lenges in the year ahead.”

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