March 12, 2019

On second thought, CT job growth not so hot

PHOTO | File
PHOTO | File

State leaders were heartened when the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) released its initial jobs report for 2018. The numbers, released in January, showed the state added nearly 20,000 jobs last year — the best year for job growth in Connecticut since 2006.

Then the revised figures were released last week, and the employment picture became significantly less rosy.

DOL officials said Friday that an annual revision conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that Connecticut only added about 10,000 jobs last year, or about half of what was originally estimated — and announced.

"The benchmark revisions, based on actual payroll jobs, show that we ended 2018 a lot different than we thought we would," said Peter Gioia, an economic advisor for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the state's largest business organization.

"The year-over-year numbers predicted an overall jobs gain of 19,900, but that figure was revised down nearly 50 percent to 10,000," Gioia said.

Connecticut had 0.6-percent job growth in 2018, up from 0.1 percent in 2017 and 0.2 percent in 2016. However, the number is still behind the national average and neighboring Massachusetts (both at 1.8 percent for the year).

The revision also set back the state's recovery of jobs lost during the 2008-2010 recession. Connecticut has recovered just 84 percent of lost jobs and must gain another 19,300 to meet pre-recession levels.

"If you look at private sector alone, that number is even more sobering," said Gioia. "Our earlier gain of 23,100 jobs was revised down to 9,700."

The private sector has recovered 103 percent of jobs lost.

Gioia said the Department of Labor's preliminary report for January showed 1,000 jobs were added for the month, which he called "a promising start."

"However, we are not going to sustain any type of job growth if the legislature focuses more on new mandates and costs on businesses, rather than making them more competitive," Gioia said.

"We need to create a state where businesses are growing and investing, and it needs to be lawmakers' top priority."

Contact Michael C. Bingham at mbingham@newhavenbiz.com

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