Connecticut posted its first monthly job losses of the year in May as payrolls shrank by 1,400 positions.

The state's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.7%, the highest of the six New England states and a full point above the national rate.

Unemployment-NE_061616CBIA economist Peter Gioia said the weak May report, released today by the state Department of Labor, was expected after the United States only added 38,000 jobs last month.

“Overall, this is not unexpected and it does point to the fact that we are still struggling here in Connecticut,” Gioia said.

The agency also revised the April numbers down slightly by 300 jobs, for a revised gain of 3,200 positions.

In the six-plus years since the end of the recession, Connecticut has recovered 79% of the 119,100 jobs lost during the economic downturn.

Over the same period, Massachusetts has recovered an astounding 255% of lost jobs while the U.S. has regained 163%.

“This report does highlight that the economy and creating investment that drives job growth should be priority number one for policymakers,” Gioia said.

Weak GDP Growth

The May numbers were released two days after the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Connecticut's economy grew just 0.6% in 2015, despite a strong fourth quarter.

Gioia said the state's economic performance continues to lag the region and the nation. New England's GDP grew 1.3% last year and the U.S. economy posted 2.4% growth.

“Are we heading back into a recession? No, but we are hitting some bumps in the road,” he said.

“Put it this way, we just blew out a tire on a big pothole and now have to change it before we can move forward again.”

We just blew out a tire and now have to change it before we can move forward.
— CBIA economist Pete Gioia
Gioia noted that over the last 12 months, state payrolls grew by 13,500 jobs. While that growth rate is a modest 0.83%, nine of the 10 major industry sectors posted gains during that period.

Sectors, Labor Markets

For May, trade, transportation, and utilities lost 2,600 jobs, leading the five losing sectors. Retailers accounted for all the sector's losses.

Education and health services lost 1,400 positions, followed by information (-1,000), professional and business services (-400), and leisure and hospitality (-200).

Manufacturing posted the biggest gains, with 1,200 new jobs. That sector has added 1,800 jobs over the last 12 months.

Government added 1,000 jobs, followed by construction and mining (900), financial activities (700), and other services (400).

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford was the only labor market areas that added jobs in May , gaining 100 positions.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk lost 1,300 jobs, Norwich-New London-Westerly shed 1,200 positions, and New Haven lost 500.