Connecticut's October jobs report spotlights two concerning trends for the state's economy.
The state lost 6,600 jobs in October, the worst month since April 2012 and a stark downturn from this June, when employment hit a post-recession high of 1,692,800 jobs.
In addition, the state's labor force shrank for the fourth consecutive month.
Since June, the labor pool has declined by 27,000 people or 14%.
CBIA economist Pete Gioia says those trends underscore the critical need for skilled labor in the state's manufacturing sector—particularly in aerospace and defense—driven by surging product demand and a wave of retirements.
"We hear from companies daily, particularly manufacturers, that they can't find qualified workers," Gioia said.
"Until we fix this problem, we may continue to see disappointing or subpar employment reports.
"The lack of job growth highlights our workforce development concerns. We're not keeping pace with the number of retirements."
While the state Department of Labor's latest monthly jobs report revised September's initial reported loss of 2,000 jobs to a gain of 300, Connecticut has now posted losses in three of the last four months.
Connecticut has recovered just 73% of all jobs lost during the recession—the only New England state and one of just a handful of states in the country yet to reach full employment.
The private sector recovery rate is now at 92%, retreating over the last four months after crossing the 100% milestone in June.
"Despite last month's revision, we still only have a year-over-year job gain of 1,400 compared to the over 11,000 that we saw earlier this year," Gioia said.
Workforce development should be job one going forward for Connecticut to turn this situation around.
"Workforce development should be job one going forward for Connecticut to turn this situation around."
Connecticut's 0.1% year-over-year job growth is well below the New England average of 1.2%. U.S. job growth averages 1.4% over the last 12 months.
While Connecticut's unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a point to 4.5% in October, Gioia said that was driven by the labor force decline.
Industry Sectors, Labor Markets
Just three of the state's industry sectors added positions in October, led by construction and mining with 2,200 new jobs.
Education and health services gained 500 jobs and manufacturing added 100.
Leisure and hospitality was responsible for almost half of all losses, shedding 3,000 jobs, a seasonal shift that the Labor Department called "exaggerated."
"This loss is exaggerated because the very high summer peak season employment levels were well ahead of last year," research director Andy Condon said.
Other services lost 2,100 jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities (-1,400 jobs); financial activities (-1,000); government (-1,000); information (-500); and professional and business services (-400).
Four of the state's labor market areas lost jobs last month, with New Haven posting the largest decline, a loss of 2,500 jobs.
Danbury lost 800 jobs, followed by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (-700 jobs) and Waterbury (-100).
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford and Norwich-New London-Westerly were unchanged for the month.