Connecticut added 9,400 jobs in July, the highest monthly gains of 2021, while new weekly average unemployment claims fell to a 17-month low.
The government sector posted strong gains for a third straight month, adding 3,000 jobs to lead all sectors, with the private sector rebounding after losing jobs in June.
Connecticut has now regained 67% of the historic 292,400 jobs lost to COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns in March and April last year.
Vermont leads the New England states at 82%, followed by Maine (81%), New Hampshire (73%), Rhode Island (70%), Massachusetts (70%), and Connecticut.
The U.S. COVID-19 jobs recovery rate is 75%.
Unemployment Claims, Benefits
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima called the July employment report "welcome news for Connecticut's pandemic recovery."
“It is clear the reinstatement of the work-search requirement for unemployment benefit claimants has impacted the July employment numbers," DiPentima said.
“Employers are now anxiously waiting to see what happens when the federal unemployment benefit supplement expires in early September."
The state Department of Labor restored the work-search requirement for unemployment claimants—waived at the height of the pandemic—on May 30.
The federal $300 weekly unemployment benefit supplement will expire Sept. 4.
Connecticut saw 3,937 initial average weekly unemployment claims in July, the lowest since February 2020 and a 58% decline from the May figures.
The state's unemployment rate fell six-tenths of a point to 7.3% last month, one of the highest in the country, and almost two points above the national rate of 5.4%.
New Hampshire's unemployment rate is 2.9%, the lowest in the region, followed by Vermont (3%), Maine (4.9%), Massachusetts (4.9%), Rhode Island (5.8%), and Connecticut.
DiPentima said the pace of the state's jobs recovery compared with the region and the country remains a concern, particularly given Connecticut never recovered all jobs lost in the 2008-2010 recession.
“The path to full jobs recovery and economic growth continues to be challenging," he said.
"Connecticut’s year-to-date job growth is just 1.9%, well below the U.S. average of 3% and the slowest of the New England states.
“There’s a puzzling disconnect between our position as one of the leading states for vaccinations and the overall pace of jobs recovery.
"We know employers are struggling to fill thousands of open positions and there needs to be greater focus on addressing that issue.”
Sectors, Labor Markets
Seven of the state's 10 industry sectors posted gains in July, with education and health services following the government sector with 2,200 positions.
Construction and mining added 1,500 jobs, as did trade, transportation, and utilities (1,500), followed by professional and business services (1,400), leisure and hospitality (1,000), and information (400).
Other services lost 800 jobs last month, with financial activities down 600 and manufacturing shedding 200 positions.
Financial activities and information are the only two sectors where employment has declined since April 2020.
Manufacturing—where employers report thousands of unfilled positions—has recovered just 23% of the 12,700 jobs the sector lost in March and April last year.
Four of the state's labor market areas posted gains in July, led by New Haven with 4,200 new jobs, a gain of 1.5%.
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford picked up 800 jobs (0.1%), followed by Norwich-New London-Westerly (700; 0.6%), and Danbury (100; 0.1%).
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk lost 1,700 jobs in July (-0.5%) and Waterbury declined by 200 (-0.3%).