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Thursday, April 26 Business

Connecticut loses jobs, sees unemployment rise in April

Connecticut lost 1,500 jobs in April, while its unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.9 percent, according to the latest employment report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The new numbers highlight the state’s long and sputtering recovery since the last recession. Connecticut has regained only about 75 percent of the approximately 119,000 jobs lost during its 2008 to 2010 recession, lagging far behind the rebounds of neighboring states such as Massachusetts.

“A report like this should be setting off alarm bells with policymakers,” said Pete Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. “There should be people holding emergency meetings focusing on how we turn this around and get through this. This is really serious.”

Connecticut’s jobless ranks increased last month by about 1,900. The rise reflects more people returning to the workforce in recent weeks because those not looking for work are not counted in unemployment totals.

The unemployment rate compares with a national figure of 4.4 percent and state levels of 4.8 percent in March and 5.4 percent in April 2016.

“Though April nonfarm job estimates fell by 1,500 we are still well ahead of last year’s pace,” Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research, said in a statement. “For the fourth month in a row we have seen small increases in the unemployment rate accompanied by larger increases in the labor force. This continues to indicate that workers are entering or rejoining the labor force and many are finding work.”

March’s job gain was revised downward to 600, from an initially reported increase of 1,300.

During the past year, nonagricultural employment in the state has grown by 5,500 jobs.

The private sector accounted for two-thirds of the job losses last month, as it dropped 1,000 positions.

The professional and business services sector sustained the most losses, with a decline of 3,000 positions. Retrenchment in administrative and support services accounted for the entirety of the decline in that area, according to state labor officials. Trade, transportation and utilities lost 1,400 posts. Private education and health services’ ranks shrank by 700 jobs, and manufacturing decreased by 600 positions.

Three industries gained jobs last month. Construction and mining led with an increase of 2,800 employees, followed by jumps of 2,000 positions in leisure and hospitality and 200 jobs in the “other services” category.

Government employment fell by 500 positions in April and reduced its ranks by 4,400 in the past year. The sector comprises the largest contributor to job losses in 2017, according to state labor officials.

Among the state’s labor markets, three added jobs and three lost positions last month. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area’s employment increased by 200 jobs in the past month, while the Danbury area’s total rose by 600.

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“We are seriously underperforming both the region and country,” Gioia said. “There’s no upward trend. It’s basically an occasional month of good news and many months of bad news.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott