Connecticut lost 2,000 jobs in March and the labor force continued declining, sparking renewed calls for greater legislative focus on the state's economic issues.

The March losses all but erased gains made in the first two months of the year, while year-over-year job growth is less than half a percent.

March jobs report
Eight years after the end of the recession, Connecticut is one of just a handful of states yet to reach the job growth expansion point.

In addition, the labor force has now declined in 10 of the last 12 months—a loss of 21,100 (1.1%) people—as many employers, particularly manufacturers, struggle to fill open positions.

"While this is only the first time since October we've seen monthly job losses, the labor force is shrinking at a time when we need people," CBIA economist Pete Gioia said.

Gioia pointed out that Connecticut's struggle to find economic momentum contrasts with what's happening in much of the region and the country.

"We are at a time in Connecticut when we should be unlocking—not restraining—the state's economic potential," he said.

"The national and regional economies continue to see solid growth and we should be able to capture some of that, but we aren't."

'Lack of Focus'

He noted that proposals for new workplace mandates and business taxes and fees have dominated much of the current state legislative session.

"There is a lack of focus at the state Capitol," Gioia said. "When lawmakers should be focusing on job creation, they want to pass more employer mandates.

"That not only makes it more difficult to create new jobs, but makes it more costly to operate a business in Connecticut."

Based on the state Department of Labor's March jobs report released today, Connecticut has regained just 80% of the 119,100 jobs lost during the 2008-2010 recession.

The state's labor force has now declined in 10 of the last 12 months—a loss of 21,100 people.
Connecticut's private sector lost 1,900 jobs last month and has now recovered 101% of the 111,700 jobs lost in the economic downturn.

Eight years after the recession ended, Connecticut is the only New England state—and one of just a handful in the country—yet to reach the job growth expansion point.

The state's unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a point to 4.5% in March, which Gioia said reflected the month's labor force declines.

Industry Sectors, Labor Markets

Four of the state's 10 major industry sectors added jobs in March, led by professional and business services with 700 new positions.

The construction and mining and education and health services sectors each gained 500 jobs, while information expanded by 200. Financial activities was unchanged for the month.

Trade, transportation, and utilities led all declining sectors last month, shedding 1,500 positions.

Leisure and hospitality lost 1,300 jobs, followed by other services (-800), manufacturing (-200), and government (-100).

The manufacturing losses were all in the non-durable goods sub sector.

Two of the state's six main labor market areas grew in March, with Hartford adding 600 jobs and Danbury 200.

At 1.5%, Danbury's year-over-year job growth is the fastest in the state and the unemployment rate is the lowest of any labor market area.

New Haven lost 1,700 jobs last month, followed by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (-300), Norwich-New London-Westerly (-200), and Waterbury (-200).