Connecticut's jobs recovery slowed again in October, adding 14,100 jobs as a new surge in coronavirus cases brought growing health and economic concerns.
Employers have now recovered two-thirds of the historic 291,300 jobs lost in March and April to COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions.
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said Connecticut's job recovery leads the New England states and is well above the national average of 54%.
“That’s a testament to how the state has navigated the pandemic," he said. "However, this recovery is a fragile one and we cannot afford to drop our guard.
"Continued caution is needed. One, we had a very warm October, and two, our COVID test positivity then was in the 1% to 2% range—now we’ve got positivity in the 5% to 6% range.”
Employers added 18,000 jobs in September, 21,900 in August, 32,000 in July, 77,000 in June, and 28,000 in May, with the state’s phase one and phase two reopenings driving big gains in the late spring and early summer.
DiPentima said employers also are “extremely concerned” about the winter months, as coronavirus cases surge across the state and the country.
“We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone in the state to follow pandemic guidelines,” he said. “That includes wearing a mask in public, following social distance rules, and washing your hands frequently.
“Our recovery has been and will continue to be dependent on everyone in this state taking those guidelines seriously and looking out for the health and well being of all.”
DiPentima added that employment in Connecticut is down 108,400 jobs since the beginning of the year, reinforcing the need for additional federal relief funds.
At 60%, Vermont's job recovery is the best of the other New England states, followed by Rhode Island (59%), Maine (54%), Massachusetts (48%), and New Hampshire (47%).
While Connecticut's reported unemployment rate fell to 6.1% in October, state Department of Labor officials again warned the actual rate is much higher.
Nine of the state's 10 major industry sectors posted gains in October, led by trade, transportation, and utilities, which added 4,400 jobs (1.6%).
Leisure and hospitality added 3,600 jobs (2.8%), followed by government (2,900; 1.3%), other services (1,200; 2.1%), financial activities (800; 0.7%), professional and business services (500; 0.2%), information (400; 1.4%), manufacturing (400; 0.3%), and educational and health services (300; 0.1%).
The construction sector lost 400 jobs (-0.7%) last month.
DiPentima said he was encouraged by continued gains in some of the hardest hit sectors, particularly leisure and hospitality, although he is concerned for small businesses in that sector and retail.
“People need to recognize that this is a time when those local businesses—restaurants, retailers and everyone else—really need our help,” he said. “I really advocate for people to shop local.”
Five of the state's six major labor markets added jobs last month, led by New Haven which gained 4,200 positions (1.5%).
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk gained 3,300 jobs (0.9%), followed by Norwich-New London-Westerly (2,100; 1.8%), Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford (1,000; 0.2%), and Waterbury (200; 0.3%).
Danbury lost 500 jobs in October (-0.7%).