State Jobs Grow - But
January 25, 2005
By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN, Courant
Connecticut added a disappointing 600 jobs in December as
the state continued to struggle to regain employment lost in the last recession.
Many economists had hoped that the state's employers would create between 1,500
and 2,000 new jobs in December. But even though the numbers fell short, economists
said they were heartened because December represented the fifth straight month
of job gains in a state that had been stuck in a persistent pattern of monthly
job gains and losses.
"Bottom line, it's a weaker report than we would have liked," said Todd P. Martin,
economic adviser to People's Bank. "But we're moving in the right direction."
The state labor department reported Monday that total nonfarm employment in the
state rose to 1,647,700 from adjusted November numbers.
The state also said Connecticut saw a net gain of 8,400 jobs in 2004, compared
with a net loss of 16,300 the previous year.
"I'm looking at every job that we get as a victory," said Donald L. Klepper-Smith,
an economist in New Haven. "At least this says we're in a base building mode."
Nationally, job creation in December also disappointed, falling 10 percent short
of economic forecasts. The addition of 157,000 workers to employer payrolls didn't
come close to the 200,000 jobs some economists say is needed each month to show
"It's slow nationally, and it's slow in Connecticut," said Edward J. Deak, an
economics professor at Fairfield University.
In Connecticut, state employment ebbed to its lowest level - 1,638,100 - this
July after peaking at 1,700,700 in July 2000. Employment gains in Connecticut
have lagged the rest of the nation, and much of the rest of New England.
Nicholas S. Perna, economic adviser to Webster Bank, said the country has regained
about 90 percent of the jobs lost in the last economic downturn while Connecticut
has eked out just 15 percent.
Even with the new jobs in 2004, the state still needs to create 53,000 just to
regain what was lost in the last recession. Forecasts for job growth in Connecticut
in the next two years vary widely, from as much as 40,000 to as little as 15,000.
Deak said many of the state's employers remain reluctant to hire, and are getting
more work out of their existing workforce or reorganizing to get by with fewer
Despite weak job growth in December, economists said there were positive signs
in Monday's report that may bode well for 2005.
The unemployment rate slid to 4.3 percent - the lowest in more than two years
- down from 4.7 percent in November. That was well below the 5.4 percent registered
nationally in December.
"We're looking a lot better than we were six months ago," said John Tirinzonie,
the state labor economist.
Tirinzonie said he was particularly encouraged by another gain of 300 manufacturing
jobs in December, now adding up to 2,700 new jobs since February.
In job categories adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, government was up 500,
while financial activities, which includes banking, insurance and real estate,
was up 200. Professional and business services fell by 700, and construction
was down by 100.
Among the categories that aren't adjusted, the trade, transportation and utilities
sector jumped by 5,500. That was followed by leisure and hospitality, which gained
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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