FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Connecticut’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level in nearly three years at 8 percent with 7,100 new jobs added in January, the state Department of Labor reported Monday.
“It’s no doubt that statewide this was a good month — 7,100 job increase is large for what we’ve been seeing lately,” said Andy Condon, director of the office of research for the labor department. “However, our best forecasting for the job growth in Connecticut this year is not a whole lot of different than we saw last year.”
The department’s monthly Labor Situation report for January showed 16,300 private-sector jobs had been added in Connecticut since January 2011. Last January, Connecticut’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent.
But during this January alone, jobs advanced by 7,100 to 1,630,600, setting the unemployment rate at 8 percent, below the national average of 8.3 percent. This is the lowest jobless rate in Connecticut since April 2009.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said the report is “encouraging” and shows another sign of “recovery when it comes to job creation.”
“We continue to outpace the national average, which is a testament to the hard decisions we made last year to stabilize our state’s finances and focus on job creation,” Malloy said in a statement.
The state has recovered 35,900, or 30.6 percent, of the 117,500 nonfarm jobs it lost during the March 2008 to February 2010 recession, according to the report.
The job sector that grew most was construction, at 3,100 or 6.3 percent, however Condon says he believes this is due in part to the mild winter. “One asks if that will continue,” he said. The next highest growth was in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which added 2,100 positions, or 0.7 percent. Education services also grew, adding 1,500 jobs, or 0.5 percent. Leisure and hospitality added 700 positions, or 0.5 percent.
“But let’s be clear, we still have much work to do,” Malloy said. “Our successes last year have provided a road map and we must remain vigilant to make sure we arrive at our ultimate destination – an economic revival that benefits all of our residents.”
The biggest declining sector was the professional and business services with a loss of 1,800 jobs, or -0.9 percent. In this sector, temporary employment services fell 2,700 in January, according to the report. Condon says it’s a volatile industry and says one month is not a good indicator. “When businesses first begin to hire they hire temps until they are convinced that businesses are doing better."
Overall during 2011, government lost the most jobs, with 4,400 jobs lost, or -1.8 percent. Condon says this sector is not likely to make a comeback anytime soon.
The Department of Labor also released statistics for Connecticut’s unemployment rate during the last year:
January 2011: 9.3%
February 2011: 9.2%
March 2011: 9.1%
April 2011: 9.0%
May 2011: 8.9%
June 2011: 8.9%
July 2011: 8.9%
August 2011: 8.8%
September 2011: 8.6%
October 2011: 8.5%
November 2011: 8.3%
December 2011: 8.1%
January 2012: 8.0%
According to the department, here are lower Fairfield County’s unemployment rates month-to-month during 2011:
From January 2011 – December 2011
Darien: 6.7% to 5.5%
Easton: 6.2% to 5.7%
Fairfield: 7.8% to 6.4%
Greenwich: 7.4% to 5.5%
New Canaan: 6.4% to 5%
Norwalk: 9.1% to 6.6%
Stamford: 10. 4% to 8.1%
Weston: 6% to 4.9%
Westport: 6.7% to 5.2%
Wilton: 6.6% to 5.3%
The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Labor Market Area led all other areas in Connecticut in job losses in January with a 5,100 or 1.3 percent job loss, according to the report. However, it was also estimated to have the largest area loss over the year with 5,000 or 1.3 percent job loss.
Condon said the levels are so low, he doesn’t believe the statistics. “That’s the same as the over the year change … sometimes it’s a bad month for the sample, so I would advise caution when interpreting that."