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State adds jobs in July, but jobless rate still high

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published August 17. 2013 4:00AM
Unemployment remains above national average despite 11,000 additions

Connecticut added 11,500 jobs last month, even as the state's unemployment rate ticked up to 8.1 percent, the state Department of Labor reported Friday.

July's non-agricultural job gains marked the fifth monthly increase in a row and the sixth monthly gain in 2013. The number of non-agricultural jobs has now increased by 23,100, or 1.4 percent, since July 2012.

"We have a very, very positive report out of the Department of Labor," Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said in a statement. "... We've recovered 58 percent of the jobs lost during the recession."

June's unemployment rate was revised down a tenth of a percent on more complete information, meaning the rate has held steady at 8.0 percent for five straight months. The national unemployment rate in July was 7.4 percent.

"Excluding May 2010, when jobs were boosted by temporary Census employment, this month's nonfarm job gain is the best so far during this recovery, which began in February 2010," Andy Condon, director of the labor department's Office of Research, said in a statement. "Improvements were seen across most of Connecticut's industry sectors. ... If this level of growth continues, we should see improvements in the state's unemployment rate in the near future."

Seven of 10 major sectors of the economy posted job gains in July, while three saw declines. Government led the growth, adding 4,200 jobs, followed by professional and business services, which added 3,700 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector was down slightly, losing 100 jobs.

Four the state's six major labor market areas, experienced job gains. The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk areas added 3,900 and 1,000 jobs, respectively. The Norwich-New London area lost 200 jobs in the month and continues to be the weakest area in terms of jobs, having lost 1,700 through the first seven months of the year.

An economist with New Haven-based DataCore Partners, a consulting firm, recommended clients take a "wait-and-see approach" to the states's monthly data.

"It is worth pointing out that 4,200 of the 11,500 monthly gain (in jobs) came in government employment, about one-third of the gain, so let's see what sort of data we get for the next three or four months," Don Klepper-Smith wrote in a newsletter.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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