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Conn. unemployment rises in October as DOL forecasts upward revisions

Connecticut’s jobless woes persisted in October as employers added 1,200 jobs and some of the region’s largest industries condensed, sending the state unemployment rate back up to 9 percent.

State officials, however, insisted the numbers would be revised upward in March of next year when the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) completes annual revisions of the previous year’s initial unemployment estimates, which are provided to each state by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The recovery has slowed dramatically compared with a year ago. Through the first 10 months of 2011, Connecticut employers added 12,000 net new jobs, while the first 10 months of 2012 have yielded 1,400 net new positions.

The state unemployment rate increased to 9 percent from 8.9 percent in September and 8.5 percent in October 2011.

“The bottom line is, a slight change in either direction should only serve as a reminder of the important work we have left to do to turn our economy around,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a Nov. 19 statement. “We are battling strong headwinds. … The more we learn about the Great Recession, the more we realize how long it’s going to take to get us out of it.”

In Fairfield County, the unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent from 7.4 percent in October 2011.

For the year ended October 2012, the number of unemployed Fairfield County residents increased by 5.2 percent to 37,582, even as the county’s labor force — which comprises the number of people who are employed and those seeking work — decreased by about 1 percent.

While in past months, increases in the unemployment rate have been attributed to an expanding labor force — which economists say indicates an increase in optimism among the unemployed — in October, the state’s labor force shrank compared with both the previous month and the previous year.

Private sector employers added a net 1,100 jobs in October statewide.

The education and health services industry sector, which is the state’s largest employment sector, accounted for the loss of 1,500 jobs in October. The financial activities industry sector contracted by 1,100 jobs, the professional and business services sector contracted by 600 jobs and the manufacturing and construction and mining sectors shed a combined 400 jobs.

Gains came in the trade, transportation and utilities industry sector, which added 1,900 positions, the information sector, which added 200 jobs, the government sector, which added 100 jobs and other service providers, which combined to add 500 jobs.

In October, average weekly initial unemployment insurance claims were up more than 8 percent compared with the previous month.

Average weekly earnings for private sector employees fell to $949.62 from $963.83 in September and $979.37 in October 2011.

“It appears that job growth rates have been slowing over the last two quarters,” said Andy Condon, research director for the state DOL, in a statement. “With October’s results we are, for the first time, showing year-over-year declines in job levels.”

Overall, private sector employment in October 2012 was about 0.05 percent lower than a year prior.

Condon said the numbers would likely be revised upward to reflect “as many as 8,000 to 9,000 more jobs in the state than the payroll survey” conducted by the BLS “currently indicates.”

Every March, the state DOL benchmarks the previous year’s initial unemployment estimates against state unemployment insurance filings, which are seen as more accurate than the federal payroll and household surveys that contribute to the employment breakdown and the unemployment rate.

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Patrick Gallagher

Bio: Fairfield County Bureau Chief Staff Reporter Westchester County Business Journal Covers: Economy, energy, government, infrastructure and public works projects, law, media, technology Phone: (914) 694-3600, ext. 3017

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