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Job Losses Leap In Connecticut As Recession Moves In



November 21, 2008

Connecticut shed 3,600 jobs in October, the largest drop since December 2003, the state Department of Labor said Thursday in a report that sharpened fears of a long, painful decline in a state that had averted disaster for much of the year.

After two months of losses totaling nearly 6,000 jobs, experts say Connecticut has hopped aboard the national unemployment express, a train that isn't expected to brake until the state sheds at least 40,000 jobs.

"The recession is starting to hit us," said state labor economist John Tirinzonie. "The economic upheaval nationally has clearly spread into Connecticut."

Unemployment climbed to 6.5 percent last month, from 6.1 percent in September, to equal the national rate, the report said.

Over the past few weeks, as the national picture grew gloomier, economists have predicted the state would eventually shed 40,000 to 80,000 jobs by 2010 in line with the 60,000 jobs lost during and after the 2001 recession, but far less than the 160,000 jobs lost in the early '90s.

Monthly job figures are based on a survey of employers and can be revised significantly early the following year. But Thursday's report erased the optimism of a few who still held out hope the state might skirt the national trend.

"I think for certain we're in for a lot more losses," said Tirinzonie, who predicted the state would not see any stabilization until the last three months of 2009.

On Thursday in Boston, the New England Economic Partnership released a forecast calling for Connecticut to lose 62,000 jobs through the middle of 2010. The report, prepared by Edward J. Deak of Fairfield University, said Connecticut's jobless rate will peak at 8.5 percent in early 2010, and that the housing market is expected to be weak through the end of 2009.

"The Connecticut economy was late into and will be late emerging from its recession," Deak said in the report.

In the spring and summer of this year Connecticut seemed to be running on a track different from the nation's. Overall job losses this year were moderate, and although layoffs were mounting, there were few of the sorts of massive cutbacks that hit the state in earlier recessions.

By the end of summer, the U.S. economy had lost about three-quarters of 1 percent of all jobs, while Connecticut had lost only one-quarter of 1 percent. Now, the state's cumulative job loss for 2008 suddenly bumps up to nearly one-half of 1 percent.

Don Klepper-Smith of DataCore Partners in New Haven predicted the state's total would bottom out in early 2010 with a loss of 60,000 to 80,000 positions.

Thursday's report showed that in October, the total number of jobs in the state fell below 1.7 million for the first time since July 2007. That knocks Connecticut to a level below where it was in 2000, when jobs peaked before the previous recession.

Job losses, which are adjusted to eliminate seasonal variations, were across the board in October. Education and health services, one of the major sources of job creation in the state, was down 1,200, and retail trade was down 900, reflecting a poor hiring season at the stores.

Deak, in the New England Economic Partnership report, forecast a loss of 18,200 jobs in professional and business services in Connecticut during the recession; 15,200 jobs in wholesale and retail trade; and 14,900 finance jobs.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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