February Brings Omicron Jobs Rebound; Labor Force Issues Persist
Connecticut’s jobs market rebounded from the Omicron surge in February, with employers adding 6,300 new jobs amid broad private sector gains.
Two years after the pandemic first hit, the state has recovered 81% of the 289,400 jobs lost in March and April of 2020 to shutdowns and restrictions.
The March 24 release of the February employment numbers followed last week’s report that Connecticut job openings jumped 12,000 in January to a record 117,000, an 11.4% monthly increase as demand for workers continued to outstrip supply.
Connecticut’s labor force has declined by 81,500 people (-4.2%) since February 2020—an astonishing 51% of the region’s losses and 14% of the national labor force decline.
“While we welcome the strong rebound from the Omicron surge, the labor shortage crisis continues to threaten the state’s pandemic recovery and addressing this crisis must be the top priority for policymakers,” CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said.
“There are 117,000 job openings in Connecticut—if every unemployed resident found a job, we’d still have 25,800 open positions.”
By the Numbers: Connecticut’s Labor Market
|State||2021 Job Growth||Job Openings (Jan. 2022)||Monthly Change (%)||Labor Force Change (since Feb. 2020)||Unemployment Rate (Feb. 2022)|
|United States||4.7%||11.3 million||-1.6%||-0.4%||3.8%|
Maine leads the region in COVID jobs recovery at 94%, followed by New Hampshire (89%), Rhode Island (84%), Massachusetts (84%), Connecticut, and Vermont (75%). The U.S. recovery rate is 91%.
The state’s unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a point to 4.9%—the largest single-month drop since September 2020, but still the highest in the region and more than a percentage point over the U.S. rate of 3.8%.
New Hampshire has the region’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.7%, followed by Vermont (2.9%), Rhode Island (3.9%), Maine (4%), Massachusetts (4.7%), and Connecticut.
First-time unemployment claims fell to 2,837 per week, down 21% from January 2022 and below February 2020 levels.
“Our highest-in-the-region unemployment rate coupled with a massive labor force decline is unacceptable,” DiPentima said.
“It is critical that lawmakers use the current legislative session to address this crisis and find ways to make Connecticut more affordable for residents and businesses.”
Employment grew in five of the state’s 10 main industry sectors in February, led by 4,800 new jobs in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (1.6%).
Education and health services gained 1,900 jobs (0.6%), followed by leisure and hospitality (1,200; 0.8%), manufacturing (500; 0.3%), and information (300; 1%).
The financial activities sector was unchanged.
Professional and business services led all losing sectors, dropping 1,100 jobs in February (-0.5%).
Government lost 900 jobs (-0.4%), followed by other services (-300; -0.5) and construction and mining (-100; -0.2%).
Five of Connecticut’s six major labor markets posted gains in February, led by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (4,100; 1%).
Hartford gained 2,600 jobs (0.5%), followed by New Haven (700; 0.2%), Norwich-New London-Westerly (500; 0.4%), and Danbury (300; 0.4%).
Waterbury was the only major labor market that lost jobs, down 400 (-0.6%).
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