Published December 21. 2012 4:00AM
Connecticut's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point last month to 8.8 percent, as the state added 300 jobs, preliminary estimates released Thursday show.
"November's job and unemployment numbers are encouraging, especially in light of the challenges that Hurricane Sandy brought," Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor's Office of Research, said. "However, the continuing trend of civilian labor force decline … causes concern that we are seeing a fundamental shift in the demographics of Connecticut's workforce.
"We will be watching carefully to see if this trend continues or is a temporary movement."
Despite the gains, the jobs report "continues to demonstrate weakness in Connecticut's economy," economist Pete Gioia, vice president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said.
Connecticut's unemployment rate remains well above the national rate of 7.7 percent.
Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist for DataCore Partners LLC, a New Haven-based research firm, called the numbers "disappointing, and on the low end of expectations."
"On a cumulative year-to-date basis, the state has now seen its employment base climb just 0.3 percent for the 11 months of 2012, growth which is less than half of what is seen in typical economic expansions."
Adding the November data, Connecticut has now added a total of 30,700 non-farm jobs since the revised low recorded in February 2010, Klepper-Smith said, "meaning we now have a job recovery rate of 26.1 percent, roughly half the U.S figure of 52.5 percent.
"This means we've essentially recovered only about one-quarter of our job losses in Connecticut after three years of recovery, while the nation has recovered a little over half of its jobs."
Three of the state's six major labor market areas, or LMAs, experienced job growth in November, while three exhibited employment declines. The Norwich-New London area led all LMAs with 500 additional jobs in the month, followed by the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area (400) and the Waterbury area (200).
The labor department revised a preliminary estimate of 1,200 jobs added in October, increasing the number to 1,400. The first 11 months of the year have now resulted in 1,900 new jobs, well behind last year's pace. Some 8,800 jobs had been added through November 2011.