COVID-19’s Economic Toll: 102K Jobs Lost in 2020


Connecticut lost 102,700 jobs in 2020, with COVID-19 restrictions disrupting economic activity across all industry sectors and labor markets.

The state’s jobs recovery also stalled for a second month in December, with the latest monthly employment report showing a loss of 3,400 jobs.

Connecticut has recovered 63% of the historic 291,300 jobs lost in March and April last year.

That’s the highest of any New England state—the region’s recovery rate is 53%—and well above the national average of 56%.

In percentage terms, Connecticut employment shrank 6.1% in 2020, the lowest decline in the region. U.S. job growth dropped 6.2% last year.

Massachusetts’ employment fell 9.1% last year, the worst decline in the region, and the state has recovered just 49% of its pandemic-related job losses.

Vermont’s workforce declined 9% (60% recovery rate) in 2020, followed by New Hampshire (8.8%; 45%), Rhode Island (8.7%; 53%); and Maine (7.3%; 54%).

Legislative Priorities

“We are weathering the pandemic better than our New England neighbors and much of the rest of the country,” CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said.

“However, that’s little consolation to those who have lost their jobs and to the thousands of small businesses that have shut down.”

DiPentima said the 2020 employment figures must shape legislative priorities during this year’s legislative session.

“Policymakers must take a laser focus to policies that get Connecticut residents back to work.”

CBIA’s Chris DiPentima

“Policymakers must take a laser focus to policies that get Connecticut residents back to work and support small businesses that have been struggling for almost a year now,” he said.

“Lawmakers cannot revert to a business-as-usual approach.

“We have to change the narrative and CBIA’s just-released 2021 Rebuilding Connecticut policy recommendations provide a roadmap for getting people back to work, driving growth, and rebounding better and stronger than before.”

Rebuilding Connecticut

DiPentima said employers were heartened by Gov. Ned Lamont’s stance against broad-based tax increases and the bipartisan legislative support for CBIA’s Rebuilding Connecticut campaign.

“It’s heartening that the Lamont administration and many in the legislature also support these initiatives, including workforce development, urban renewal, infrastructure investment, small business relief, and taxpayer return on investment,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the policy agendas of some legislative committees, such as the Labor Committee, will only undermine efforts to change how the state operates and rebuild our economy. 

“Connecticut has tremendous opportunities that we must capitalize on, that we cannot let pass by. We hope state lawmakers will stay focused on what truly matters—rebuilding Connecticut.”

Connecticut’s reported unemployment rate was 8% in December, one of the highest in New England. U.S. unemployment was 6.7%

Industry Sectors, Labor Markets

The state’s manufacturing sector performed strongly in December, leading all sectors by adding 1,900 new jobs to finish the year down 3,000 positions (-1.9%).

Construction gained 1,100 jobs last month and is down 3,000 for the year (-5%), professional and business services added 600 (-8,900; -4%), financial activities grew by 500 (-3,900; -3.1%), and information was up 100 (-1,200; -3.8%).

Leisure and hospitality led all losing sectors in December, down 3,200 jobs for the month and 30,700 for the year (-19.7%).

The government sector, which includes local, state, and federal government jobs and employment at the state’s two casinos, lost 2,400 positions in December and 18,500 for the year (-7.8%).

Trade, transportation, and utilities lost 1,200 jobs last month and 6,600 in 2020 (-2.3%), education and health was down 700 (-19,800; -5.8%), and other services’ employment fell 100 (-7,100; -11%).

Four of the state’s six major labor markets added jobs last month, led by Norwich-New London-Westerly with a gain of 900. The area lost 12,500 jobs in 2020 (-9.7%).

New Haven gained 800 jobs in December and lost 14,000 last year (-4.8%), Hartford added 700 (-27,200; -4.6%), and Waterbury was up 500 (-6,600; -9.7%).

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk lost 1,200 jobs last month and 39,700 positions (-9.7%).

Employment in Danbury dropped 700 in December, for a yearly loss of 5,300 jobs (-6.8%).


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