The manufacturing sector's strong performance lifted Connecticut’s overall job growth for 2017, an economist with the state's largest business organization said today.

CBIA economist Pete Gioia said the state Department of Labor's 2017 annual benchmark revisions show a marked improvement over the previous year, although the pace of growth still trails the region.

The state also began 2018 on a positive by adding 3,400 jobs in January.

"2017 is significantly improved from 2016, when we lost 200 jobs," Gioia said.

"Manufacturing was a big part of that, adding 6,300 jobs during the year, which marks just the third annual gain for the sector over the last 20 years."

Gioia noted that overall, Connecticut employers added a net 5,300 new jobs. At 0.3%, that was the slowest growth of any of the New England states.

The six New England states averaged 1% growth for the year, led by Rhode Island at 1.5%. The U.S. averaged 1.5% growth in 2017.

Connecticut's private sector added 7,200 jobs last year and has now recovered all jobs lost during the 2008-2010 recession.

Overall, Connecticut has regained 80% of the 119,100 jobs lost in the economic downturn and is one of just a handful of states yet to reach full recovery.

Gioia said the 2017 report shows that lawmakers must help drive job growth in manufacturing and all industry sectors.

"We're seeing momentum," Gioia said. "We still need improvement but we’re going in the right direction.

"However, we are concerned that the legislature's heavy focus this year on new workplace mandates and other business costs will hurt that momentum by making companies less competitive."

Gioia also noted that the manufacturing sector faces a critical shortage of skilled workers, amplifying the need for initiatives to expand the workforce development pipeline.

CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with thousands of member companies, small and large, representing a diverse range of industries from every part of the state. For more information, please email or call Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957).