December Jobs Report: ‘Economy Stuck in Neutral’

- Posted by Editor in Economic Development in General

How many jobs were created in Connecticut in 2012?

There's little to celebrate in today's release of the December unemployment numbers, with Connecticut losing a net 100 jobs last year.

The Department of Labor's December report is startling: 1,800 positions lost in the month, even with the unemployment rate dropping three-tenths of a point to 8.6%.

"It's pretty grim news," said CBIA economist Pete Gioia. "And the drop in the unemployment rate to 8.6%, which is still quite high, was totally due to the fact that we had more workers leave the labor force because they were discouraged."

Significant setback

The state's failure to create jobs in 2012 is in stark contrast with the previous year, when 7,800 positions were created. And it's a significant setback to Connecticut's fragile economic recovery.

“Overall it shows an economy that isn’t even in first gear right now," Gioia said. "It’s really stuck in neutral.”

In contrast, New Jersey added a record 30,900 private sector jobs in December, while the state's unemployment rate is 9.6%. 

New York State added 34,300 jobs in December for an annual net gain of 123,200. New York's unemployment rate is 8.2%.

National unemployment at 7.8%

Nationally, the U.S. economy gained 155,000 positions in December while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8%.

Connecticut has recovered just 28,700 (24.4%) of the jobs lost during the March 2008-February 2010 recession.

Department of Labor research director Andy Condon said the size of the state's labor force declined for the sixth consecutive month.

"With the arrival of the December preliminary jobs report it is apparent that the rate of job growth slowed considerably in the last half of the year," he said,

"However, we expect the level of jobs in the state to be revised upward when the benchmark is complete in March.”

Manufacturing gains

If there was a bright spot in the report, manufacturers did add 800 jobs in December, although the sector shed a net 1,000 positions in 2012. Other sectors:

  • Education and health services gained 1,800 jobs last month and 10,800 for the year.
  • Construction companies added 400 jobs for the month, finishing the year with a net loss of 100. 
  • Retailers couldn't maintain their post-Thanksgiving momentum, losing 1,600 jobs in December.
  • Leisure and hospitality, information, and other services all lost jobs in December while making modest net gains for the year.

Three of the state's six labor market areas showed growth in December, with the Hartford area adding 1,500 jobs, followed by Danbury with 400 and 200 in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk.

The Waterbury area lost 700 jobs, while New Haven shed 500 and Norwich-New London lost 400.

Discussion

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