Connecticut unemployment rate dips as jobs added

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Employers in Connecticut added 2,200 jobs in April, helping to push down the unemployment rate to 6.9 percent as the state continues a modest job-recovery, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The employment gain was the third consecutive monthly increase. Employers have added 6,900 jobs since April 2013, with the unemployment rate dipping 0.1 percent.

Andy Condon, the Labor Department’s research director, said the state’s labor market is improving following “extreme winter volatility.”

“The pace of Connecticut’s employment recovery is moderate, but seems to be on solid footing,” he said.

Other statistics also are encouraging. For example, the number of unemployed Connecticut residents declined by more than 2,000 in April and has fallen by nearly 12 percent since April 2013.

Still, Connecticut’s unemployment rate is higher than the 6.3 percent rate nationally in April.

The slow pace of job creation in Connecticut is poised to be a potent political issue this year as Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy faces a tough fight for a second term. In a recent Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters surveyed between Feb. 26 and March 1, 33 percent approved of his handling of the economy and jobs, while 60 percent disapproved.

Connecticut has recovered 66,300 jobs, or less than 56 percent of the 119,100 jobs lost during the employment downturn between March 2008 and February 2010, the Labor Department reported. The state’s jobs recovery is more than four years old and is averaging about 1,326 jobs a month since February 2010.

Two private-sector economists found the results less than impressive.

Peter Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said economic growth in Connecticut lags behind Massachusetts, New York and the nation, which he said have achieved full jobs recovery.

“Even with the higher pace of job recovery that we’ve seen in the last year, it takes us 34 months to achieve full employment,” he said.

Don Klepper-Smith, chief economic adviser to former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said jobs growth in Connecticut is “well below average pace” after almost five years of economic recovery.

“Demand for labor has diminished in a subpar growth economy, where employers tend to make do with the resources they have, not adding jobs unless it contributes to bottom-line profitability or productivity,” he said. “Our current job figures are nothing to brag about, especially when we’ve seen much large gains during previous expansions.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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