Published July 18. 2013 12:00PM Updated July 18. 2013 11:52PM
The Norwich-New London area, which has been trailing the rest of the state in job growth for most of the past four years, finally saw a ray of sunshine Thursday.
While the rest of Connecticut recorded job losses totaling 800 last month, the region gained 1,300 positions in June, according to figures released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.
“The Norwich-New London labor market ... finally added jobs in June,” the Connecticut Business & Industry Association said in a release.
The local jobs increase was the largest monthly rise in at least a year. It comes on the heels of the reported loss of 2,200 jobs in the Norwich-New London region in May.
Despite the upbeat report, the region had 1,700 fewer jobs this June than it had in the same month last year.
Statewide, only 500 jobs were added in June, according to preliminary estimates. The report also included a revision of May data showing Connecticut gaining only 600 jobs that month, versus the 1,000 previously reported.
“The second wettest June on record in the state may have dampened job growth in some sectors,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said in a statement.
Condon added that the extended school year, thanks to this year’s blizzard and last year’s hurricane, “may have some influence on summer hiring patterns going forward.”
The Labor Department pointed out that June’s job growth represented the fourth month in a row of employment increases statewide. And the pace of growth this year, averaging 1,800 jobs a month, is significantly above levels seen in the previous four years of recovery since the Great Recession ended.
The state has now recovered nearly 59,000 of the 121,200 jobs lost during the recession, the report said.
“What we’re seeing right now is sustainable job growth but at a slow rate,” CBIA economist Pete Gioia said in a statement.
Despite the job gains, Connecticut’s unemployment rate inched up a tenth of a point to 8.1 percent.
Don Klepper-Smith, a leading state economist with DataCore Partners LLC in New Haven, called the latest report “below expectations.” In a note to clients Thursday, he added that Connecticut’s economy is making “modest progress” but that consumer spending power is still far below the rate of growth seen in previous recoveries.
Klepper-Smith also pointed out that Connecticut continues to be hit by an almost unprecedented decline in the labor force of about 31,000 workers over the past year.
“The present Connecticut economy is more ‘flat’ than anything else,” he said.