Connecticut job losses have economists worried

The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry leaves Bridgeport Harbor.

The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry leaves Bridgeport Harbor.

Ned Gerard /File photo

Connecticut’s job market took a step forward to take two more back.

The state shed 1,500 jobs last month, according to reports by the Department of Labor, following a 500 job gain in April 2019, according to recently revised numbers.

Though the number of the state’s unemployed residents decreased by 800, Connecticut has maintained its 3.8 percent unemployment rate. That’s still higher than the national average, which is at 3.6 percent.

The state’s lag in job creation has Pete Gioia, economic advisor to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, a bit worried.

“We have a really serious employment problem, yet we know there are companies that are looking for everything… and yet we are not able to generate the sort of activity to fill those to bring us to the U.S. average,” he said.

That may only be the start of things to come, he added, as the newly signed legislation regarding Family and Medical Leave and minimum wage increases go into effect in coming months.

“Those have a potential to really seriously shred jobs, particularly because they’re on small businesses, and small businesses can move either way with hiring or cutting,” Gioia said.

The private sector lost 1,600 jobs in May, while government employment showed slight growth with 300 new hires.

The trade, transportation, and utilities industry led the decline, shedding 1,400 jobs.

Construction and mining have continued to decline, losing 900 positions for a total of 3,200 jobs lost over the past three months. The remaining losses came from the Other services and manufacturing sectors, which dropped 300 and 100 positions respectively.

“With May’s decline of 1,500 jobs, seasonally adjusted employment growth through the first five months of the year is looking rather flat,” said Andy Condon, Director of the Office of Research, in a press release. “Most sectors are seeing at least some annual growth, but trade, particularly retail trade, professional and business services and other services are behind last year’s job numbers.”

Half of the 10 major industries saw job growth in May with leisure and hospitality leading the way with 500 additions.

The financial activities and professional and business services industries weren’t far behind with 300 and 200 jobs added, respectively.

Education and health services also grew by 100 jobs, respectively.

Four of the six labor markets in Connecticut saw job increases in May, according to DOL reports.

Both the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and the Danbury markets saw small slight increases of 100 jobs, trailing behind Harford which increased by 2,400 jobs.

The New Haven labor market was the only market area to see a drop, shedding 200 net jobs.

Connecticut has now recovered 80.8 percent of the 120,300 of jobs lost in the last recession. It still needs another 23,100 net new jobs for a full recovery and lags other states in New England.