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Connecticut rekindles jobs growth in October

November 15, 2018

Connecticut added 1,500 jobs in October, putting the state back on a growth track as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wends down his final weeks after taking office after the Great Recession.

The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.2 percent in October, according to Thursday estimates by the Connecticut Department of Labor, a half-percentage point above the U.S. jobless rate of 3.7 percent.

In August, Connecticut topped the 1.7 million jobs mark for the first time since June 2008, marking a fourth consecutive month of jobs gains before a slight contraction in September that DOL estimated was more severe than an earlier estimate, at 900 jobs lost. Connecticut employment remains about 11,400 jobs short of the state’s peak employment set in March 2008.

Governor-elect Ned Lamont has pledged to make the economy his top priority, commencing a “revitalization tour” as he dubbed it on his Twitter feed earlier this week, and convening a roundtable of prominent Connecticut employers that included Farmington-based United Technologies; the Electric Boat subsidiary of General Dynamics in Groton; the Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft unit of Lockheed Martin; and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield.

Lamont was adamant during the campaign that he would not make incentives the cornerstone of his economic development strategy, stating instead he would use the power of persuasion to convince businesses to consider expanding here.

For the labor market area that includes metropolitan Bridgeport and Stamford, employment last peaked in the summer of 2000, with the region’s employers having yet to demonstrate a sustained hiring push in the aggregate. The Danbury area that includes New Milford hit an employment peak in June of more than 79,000 jobs, with New Haven following suit in July with a record 286,000 jobs.

Southwestern Connecticut has ranked consistently this year in the bottom third of metropolitan areas nationally for employment gains, however, including in September when the region generated a jobs gain of less than 1 percent over the intervening 12 months. The statewide job count was up 1.3 percent as of October for a gain of 22,300 jobs.

Several employers list at least 50 open jobs in the region, including Stamford-based Gartner, Western Connecticut Health Network and CVS, but there have been ample numbers of companies offsetting that growth with layoffs, to include Danone which is in the process of closing a YoCrunch production plant in Naugatuck at a cost of 130 jobs; Sears Holdings which is closing Sears and Kmart stores in Milford; and Edible Arrangements, which is moving its Wallingford headquarters to Atlanta.

While Florida municipalities have dominated job growth as tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some Northeast communities have fared well including Atlantic City, N.J. which ranked third nationally with 7 percent growth; and the New London area, which led Connecticut with a 2.1 percent increase to crack the top third of metropolitan areas nationally.

Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott and Luther Turmelle.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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