A September to remember? Connecticut's Department of Labor reported a gain of 11,500 jobs last month, the best month in 20 years, catching many observers by surprise.

And the agency also released revised numbers for August, saying 1,200 jobs were lost that month after originally reporting a loss of 3,600.

"September employment numbers are very encouraging," DOL research director Andy Condon said. "Some of this gain was expected, especially in local public education, and in leisure and hospitality where seasonal shifts may have been missed in August.

"Both Connecticut' s non-farm employment and unemployment rate are back to late 2008 levels. However, monthly sample-based labor statistics can be volatile in either direction and should be looked at in context of longer trends over several months."

In an interview with The Connecticut Mirror, Condon acknowledged that announcing the best job growth numbers in two decades in the last monthly report before the November 4 election was likely to raise questions.

'Coincidence'

"It is coincidence," he said. "This was an unusually strong month."

Speaking with WTIC radio host Joe D'Ambrosio, CBIA executive vice president Joe Brennan said "going from 1,200 jobs lost in August to 11,500 gained is an enormous swing in one month."

"It's great to go in a positive direction, not a negative direction," he said. "But just the overall size of it was a surprise to everybody.

"The Labor Department, other economists I've talked to, they all underscore the fact that these numbers are very, very volatile and they do get revised in following months.

"We've still only gained back about 72% of the jobs lost in the recession while the U.S. and many regional states have surpassed 100%. It's definitely good news, but we still have a long way to go."

Volatility

Webster Bank economic adviser Nick Perna told the Hartford Courant that "reality is nowhere near as volatile as these numbers."

"Talk about wonky or weird," he said. "Last month looked like the world was coming to the end, now we've got an unbridled boom?"

September's reported numbers represent more than 13% of the 85,300 jobs recovered in the state since the end of the recession.

Connecticut's unemployment rate was estimated at 6.4% for September, a drop of two-tenths of a point from August, and the lowest since November 2008. The national unemployment rate is 5.9%.

Industry sectors

Seven of the 10 major industry sectors posted gains in September, led by trade, transportation, and utilities, which the DOL said gained 3,200 positions for an increase of 8,300 over the last 12 months.

The leisure and hospitality and education and health services sectors both added 3,100 jobs, followed by professional and business services (1,900); government (1,400); construction and mining (500); and information (300).

Financial services led the three losing sectors, shedding 800 positions, followed by manufacturing (-500) and other services (-200).

Five of the six labor market areas added jobs last month, led by Hartford, with 2,700 new positions.

Norwich-New London and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk both added 1,100 positions, followed by New Haven (600) and Danbury (500).

The Waterbury area lost 300 jobs last month.