The state’s latest employment numbers sound a warning note for growth, with the state's largest business organization calling them "bitterly disappointing." But experts at the Department of Labor still believe the state’s fundamentals are still improving.
According to figures just released by the state department of labor Connecticut employers created only 300 net new jobs in August – anemic growth by any standard.
In addition to that, the healthy-looking July number -- 1,700 new jobs -- was revised downward to a loss of 800 jobs in the month.
But monthly numbers are often volatile, and Labor Department economist Andy Condon said that over the first eight months of the year, the state has created 18,600 jobs.
“My crystal ball is always foggy, but it looks like we’re on a path for what I guess I would typify as pretty good job growth for Connecticut,” he told WNPR.
The department is using a new way to benchmark its monthly surveys against census data, and Condon said that over the first quarter at least, they seem a lot more accurate than in 2015, when a drastic turnaround in the final three months of the year erased what had looked like a record year for job creation.
Condon also said delving deeper into this year’s data strengthens his optimism.
“When we look across where the job growth is happening on a year over year basis, all our industry sectors that we track, they’re all positive – none of them are losing jobs,” he said.
Finally, the state’s unemployment rate dropped in August, despite the poor job growth, and Condon said that also coincides with a bump in the overall labor force.
“We have seen over the last several months the labor force increasing, and for the last two months in the residential survey, we’ve seen the unemployment rate been going down, so that’s a strong move,” he said.
Strong fundamentals or not, not everyone’s impressed by Connecticut’s performance. In his latest report, New Haven economist Don Klepper Smith noted that the Nutmeg State ranks dead last in job creation among the New England states, and still has not recovered all of the jobs it lost in the great recession.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association said the August report highlights the immediate, urgent need to address economic challenges. "On one hand, we get tremendous news like Pratt & Whitney's announcement of up to 8,000 new Connecticut jobs over the next decade," said economist Peter Gioia, “yet just as we're celebrating that, these numbers show that the state economy's foundation needs to be fortified."