Labor Report Offers Mixed Bag
The Labor Department reported good and bad news Friday when it concluded that Connecticut grew more jobs than originally estimated last year, but shed 10,400 in January as winter weather slowed the economy.
The department revised its 2013 job growth numbers and found that the state had 12,300 more positions in December than it originally estimated. Meanwhile, the state lost jobs in the first month of the year in a drop the Labor Department believes may have been caused by harsh weather conditions.
The state unemployment rate also continued to decline. According to the department, it was 7.2 percent in January, down from a revised 7.4 percent in December.
“Newly benchmarked employment statistics reaffirm the consistent job growth in the state that brought down the unemployment rate in 2013,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said in a press release. “However, the steep decline in January payroll jobs remains a concern. If, as we suspect, January’s decline was largely due to weather conditions we should see growth trends return in future months.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a statement touting the upward revision of the 2013 estimates, which he said brings total job growth up to 21,000 new jobs last year. Malloy, who is approaching the end of his first term, said that makes a total of 53,000 new jobs since he took office in January 2011.
“The annual restatement of labor figures is yet another sign that we are making progress in turning our economy around. With 53,000 private sector jobs created through the end of last year, we are experiencing one of the best periods of growth that Connecticut has seen in decades,” he said.
Datacore Partners Chief Economist Don Klepper-Smith offered a measured view of the report.
“New data shows that our job recovery rate — defined as jobs gained back expressed as a percentage of those lost during the prior recession on a peak to trough job basis — is now 49.7 percent as of January 2014, roughly equal to the prior figure of 49 percent that we had through December before data revisions,” Klepper-Smith wrote in his analysis. “Importantly, the loss of jobs reported in January 2014 was clearly skewed to the downside because of harsh weather conditions, which are also likely to be a factor in February data scheduled release later this month.”
In a blog post, Connecticut Business and Industry Association Economist Pete Gioia said the January job losses eroded much of the gains from the upward revisions and the report seemed to raise more questions than it answered.
The report indicates that Connecticut lost 10,400 jobs in January even as the state unemployment rate continued to drop. Gioia said the report contrasted duelling employment surveys.
“We have two surveys in the same month telling us that the job market is going in different directions. So we really have, perhaps, more questions raised than answered,” he said.