After kicking off 2017 with a strong start, Connecticut shed 1,600 jobs in February.

That's in stark contrast with what's happening nationally and in much of the region.

New England Jobs GrowthThe state Department of Labor's monthly employment report included good news, revising January's initially reported gains up by 700 to 6,500 new jobs.

However, February's losses and a two-tenths of a point jump in the unemployment rate illustrate the uncertainty surrounding the state's economy.

“Connecticut’s performance is lagging national and regional rates when it comes to jobs and that must be a top priority for lawmakers moving forward,” CBIA economist Pete Gioia said.

"January got 2017 off to a strong and encouraging start. While February numbers slipped, we’re still ahead for the year and need to create positive momentum."

U.S., Regional Growth

U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, shattering analysts' forecasts for a second straight month.

In New England, Massachusetts added 10,100 jobs in February while Rhode Island gained 2,200 positions.

Massachusetts leads all New England states in post-recession growth, recovering more than 300% of the jobs lost during the March 2008-February 2010 economic downturn.

Connecticut has recovered just 74% of the 119,100 jobs lost during the recession, the slowest growth of any New England state. The U.S. recovery rate is 188%.

While February numbers slipped, we’re still ahead for the year and need to create positive momentum.
— CBIA economist Pete Gioia
While the state's 4.7% unemployment rate is eight-tenths of a point lower than a year ago, it is now the highest of the New England states. U.S. unemployment is also 4.7%.

Gioia said year-over-year growth for the state was a net 2,100 new jobs, and attributed the unemployment rate increase to a growing labor force.

“That’s largely because, year-over-year, we’ve added 10,200 people to the labor force,” he said.

“So we have more people looking for work."

Industry Sectors

Private sector employment fell by 1,500 jobs in February and is up 6,600 jobs year-over-year.

Education and health services added 3,100 jobs in February, the best of the three sectors that posted gains.

Construction grew by 1,200 jobs and professional and business services added 900.

Leisure and hospitality, which posted big gains in January, shed 3,200 jobs last month to lead all declining sectors.

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector dropped by 1,900 positions, followed by financial activities (-900); manufacturing (-400); information (-200); other services (-100); and government (-100).

Three of the state's labor market areas posted gains for the month, led by New Haven, which added 1,700 jobs.

Waterbury gained 200 jobs and Norwich-New London-Westerly added 100.

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk both lost 900 jobs and Danbury fell 100.

Year-over-year, Norwich-New London-Westerly is the fastest growing labor market in the state, gaining 1,200 jobs or 0.9%.