Economists optimistic over state job gains
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.”