While Connecticut added an estimated 4,200 jobs in February, the state’s unchanged unemployment rate, now New England's highest, underscores ongoing economic concerns.

The Department of Labor's monthly jobs report revealed that the state's jobless rate held steady at 5.5%, almost a full percentage point higher than the regional rate of 4.6%.

Connecticut's unemployment rate is almost a full percentage point higher than the New England average of 4.6%.

New Hampshire, at 2.7%, has the lowest unemployment of the six New England states. The U.S. average is 4.9%.

After falling to a post-recession low of 5.3% in September 2015, unemployment in the state has now returned to the same point as June last year--a stubborn and troubling trend.

“This report continues to highlight the fact that the economy is priority number one,” said CBIA economist Pete Gioia.

“Elected officials have got to do all they can to encourage investment in Connecticut. Stability at the Capitol attracts investment, and investment creates jobs.”

Gioia said policymakers should encourage investment in industries that create well-paying jobs with good benefits, including manufacturing and financial services.

Post-Recession Recovery

In the six years since the recession ended, Connecticut has recovered 76.6% of the 119,100 jobs lost. The U.S. recovery rate is 159%.

Lower-wage jobs (those paying less than $50,000 annually) dominate Connecticut's post-recession recovery, accounting for almost two-thirds of new positions.

Gioia noted that the February estimate of 4,200 new jobs was a positive change from the disappointing final report for 2015, which showed Connecticut adding just 11,600 jobs for the year.

Department of Labor research director Andy Condon was cautious with his analysis, pointing out seasonal impacts while adding that January's numbers were revised up by 300 jobs to a gain of 1,200.

Elected officials have to do all they can to encourage investment. Stability at the Capitol attracts investment, and investment creates jobs.
— CBIA economist Pete Gioia
"Nonfarm jobs grew briskly in February, but it is important to note that some of that growth was a rebound from vacation-affected declines in education that occurred in January,” he said.

“In hindsight, January was likely a bit better than we were able to report and actual growth in February may be a little more moderate."

Industry Sectors

Education and health services led the five sectors that added jobs in February, gaining 5,300 positions, with private education (3,400 jobs) driving sector performance.

Manufacturing gained 1,000 jobs for the month, followed by professional and business services (600); information (500); and other services (200).

Leisure and hospitality lost 1,400 jobs, the most of any sector, due in large part to seasonal adjustments in accommodation and food services.

The government sector, which includes employment at the state's two casinos, shed 800 positions and has now declined by 1,900 jobs over the last 12 months.

Trade, transportation, and utilities posted a 700-job loss, followed by financial activities (-300) and construction and mining (-200).

New Haven led all labor market areas in February, gaining 3,800 jobs.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk added 1,600 jobs and Norwich-New London-Westerly gained 700.

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford lost 1,900 jobs for the month.