The Connecticut Department of Labor today announced a gain of 1,700 jobs in June, marking the fifth straight month of employment increases in the state and reflecting a nationwide trend of widespread, ongoing job expansion.

This is positive news, said Pete Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, noting not only five consecutive months of job gains and labor force participation in seven of the state's 10 major business sectors but also a drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7%, the lowest level since 2008.

Job Gains Positive, But Modest

Gioia notes, however, that only 500 of the jobs added in June were in the private sector and that many of the gains in government jobs over that period are likely seasonal, owing to factors such as the extended school year.

"Overall, we've added 14,400 private-sector jobs year over year," he says, bringing the total number of jobs Connecticut has recovered to 73,500 of the 119,100 jobs lost during the downturn.

"All this good news, though, is tempered by the fact that we still have concerns that we only have recovered 62% of the jobs lost during the recession, whereas the nation overall has added back over 100 percent of the jobs lost."

Picking Up the Pace

The economy now appears to be experiencing a sustained jobs recovery, but Connecticut has yet to hit its stride if we are to catch up with the rest of the country. The state's moderate pace of recovery could be significantly accelerated, says Gioia, if policymakers focus on creating a better business climate that encourages more private investment in the state.

"Now that we're seeing modest growth, we need to capitalize on opportunities to increase that momentum," he says.

Improving the state's economic competitiveness is the focus of a new multiyear campaign, CT20x17, which seeks to move Connecticut into the top 20 states for business in the national rankings by the year 2017.