Connecticut's private sector added 23,100 jobs in 2018, the strongest annual job growth in two decades according to preliminary numbers released today by the state Department of Labor.

The labor department's monthly jobs report shows 1,600 private sector jobs were added in December, ending the year on what the agency called "a high note."

Post-recession job growth in New EnglandOverall, Connecticut added a net 19,900 jobs (1.2%) in the last 12 months, the best performance since gaining 23,700 positions in 2006.

The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a point to 4%, the lowest since April 2002.

DOL research director Andy Condon cautioned that the 2018 numbers face review—with final revisions due in March—adding "we have seen significant downward revisions in recent years."

CBIA economic adviser Pete Gioia said if the numbers survive review, 2018 will be the best year for private sector growth since 1998, when employers added 25,800 jobs.

"If you take a look at the year-over-year figures, we have some of the best numbers we've seen in a long while," he said.

Recovery Rate

Gioia noted that while the private sector has now recovered 118% of jobs lost during the 2008-2010 recession, the rate of recovery trails the region and the nation.

Massachusetts leads all New England states, recovering 375% of lost private sector jobs. The national average is 240%.

Connecticut has recovered 93% of the overall 119,100 jobs lost in the recession, also the slowest rate in the region and one of a just a few states yet to reach full recovery.

Lawmakers must do everything to accelerate growth, not slow it down with bad policy decisions.
— Economist Pete Gioia
"We're at the beginning of this legislative session, and lawmakers must do everything to accelerate growth, not slow it down with bad policy decisions," Gioia said.

Gioia also warned that national issues could negatively impact job and economic growth in both the U.S. and Connecticut.

"The tariff situation is still a concern, there's volatility in the markets, and the government shutdown may have an effect on many industries," Gioia said.

Sector Growth

Eight of the state's major industry sectors posted gains in 2018, led by construction with 9,700 new jobs (16.9%).

Educational and health services added 7,000 jobs (2.1%), followed by leisure and hospitality (5,900; 3.8%), financial activities (2,600; 2%), professional and business services (1,500; 0.7%), information (600; 2%), other services (500; 0.8%), and manufacturing (300; 0.2%).

Manufacturing gained jobs for a second consecutive year, although well behind the 6,300 positions the sector added in 2017.

Trade, transportation, and utilities lost 4,600 jobs (-1.5%) in 2018 after hitting a post-recession high in February.

The government sector—which includes federal, state, and local governments and the state's two tribal casinos—lost 3,600 jobs (-1.6%).

The Hartford region saw the strongest annual growth of any of the state's labor market areas, adding 8,100 jobs (1.4%) in 2018.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk gained 6,800 jobs (1.7%), followed by New Haven (4,000; 1.4%), Norwich-New London-Westerly (1,600; 1.2%); and Danbury (1,200; 1.5%).

Waterbury was unchanged over the year.