Connecticut employers added 4,700 jobs in September, posting the ninth consecutive monthly gain as the labor force recovers from the pandemic, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The unemployment rate fell 0.4%, to 6.8%, still substantially higher than the U.S. rate of 4.8%.
Interim Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo credited Connecticut’s strong vaccination rate for helping restore business activity. Weekly filings for unemployment compensation that topped 400,000 during the worst of the pandemic are 52,000 now, she said.
David Lehman, state commissioner of economic development, said Connecticut’s job growth has been stronger than following the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009. He said the decision by Gov. Ned Lamont to keep manufacturing businesses open and authorizing retail and restaurant curbside pickup helped speed economic growth.
“It’s easier to shut something down than start it back up,” he said in an interview. “The state was one of the last to recover. Now we’re considerably better than our neighbors.”
Data from the state Department of Economic and Community show the rebound in jobs in Connecticut was stronger than in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
The Labor Department said professional and technical services, education, retail trade and hotels and restaurants have recovered more than 75% of the jobs lost during the shutdown. Construction has regained all of the jobs that vanished during the pandemic. The industry posted 59,300 jobs, the same number as in February 2020 before COVID-19 began to take its toll.
However, manufacturing jobs — a key segment in Connecticut’s labor force — are down nearly 5% from their peak in February 2020, posting 153,000, off from 160.100 20 months ago. Part of that is due to the steep drop in the aviation industry, which is a sizable part of manufacturing in the state, as airlines grounded planes in response to travel bans. Air travel, particularly in international routes, is returning, but slowly.
Economist Donald Klepper-Smith said Connecticut has more work to do to reach the level of jobs before the start of the Great Recession in 2008. While jobs now are off 5% from February 2020 immediately before the pandemic, employment is down by 111,200 jobs, or nearly 6.5%, since March 2008 just before the start of the deepest economic downturn since the Depression.
“Connecticut will not be seeing its former employment peak . . . anytime soon despite the recent ‘bounce-back’ in jobs,” Klepper-Smith said in an email.
The Waterbury labor market was the only one of Connecticut’s six labor market areas to post fewer jobs in September, dropping by 200. The number of jobs surged in the Hartford labor market area, rising by 4,400.
Stephen Singer can be reached at email@example.com.