Connecticut unemployment rate dips slightly to 5.6 percent

Markets Associated Press

Preliminary figures released Monday show Connecticut's monthly unemployment rate declined slightly in August, from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent, but an economist at the state's largest association of businesses called the jobs report a disappointment.

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According to a business survey administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state added 300 jobs in August. However, its unemployment rate remains three-tenths of a percentage point higher than it was a year ago.

Peter Gioia, an economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said the report was "bitterly disappointing."

"On one hand, we get tremendous news like Pratt & Whitney's announcement of up to 8,000 new Connecticut jobs over the next decade," he said. "Yet, just as we're celebrating that, these numbers show the state economy's foundation needs to be fortified."

Pratt & Whitney, a jet engine maker, will hire 25,000 people worldwide over the next decade, and about one-third will come from Connecticut, company president Robert Leduc said last week. The planned hiring is due partly to the need to replace retiring workers.

Andy Condon, director of the Department of Labor research office, said that while the state's unemployment rate has stubbornly remained steady for the past eight or nine months he sees positive signs. He noted how the state's labor force is growing, with more people finding jobs.

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"We appear to be doing better than last year," he said, referring to payroll figures.

Connecticut has recovered about 81 percent of the nonfarm jobs it lost during the March 2008-February 2010 labor employment recession. Gioia noted how the state's job recovery rate is the lowest in New England.

Education, health services and government added jobs in August, while the construction sector experienced losses for the third consecutive month. There also were job losses last month in the professional and business services sector and the financial activities sector.

The report noted how the estimated 1,700 jobs added in July had to be revised to a loss of 800 jobs. Condon said the change was due to additional information collected from employers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.