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Jobs report shows annual employment decline

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A career fair held Jan. 22 in Norwalk by OperationsInc L.L.C. drew more than 400 job-seekers and 20 area companies hiring for as many as 100 positions. Photo courtesy of OperationsInc.

In a month traditionally among the worst for job creation, Connecticut employers still managed to disappoint, analysts said in reaction to a December jobs report that included 1,800 private sector job losses.

Nonfarm employment decreased by 100 positions in 2012, according to the December employment report, released Jan. 17 by the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL).

“Overall, this shows an economy that isn’t even in first gear right now — it’s really stuck in neutral,” said Pete Gioia, vice president and economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). “It was a very, very disappointing end to 2012.”

Private sector employers shed 1,800 jobs in December, with private sector employment increasing by 2,800 positions, or 0.2 percent, in 2012 based on preliminary estimates by the state DOL.

The state unemployment rate decreased three-tenths of a percentage point to 8.6 percent in December as a result of discouraged workers leaving the labor force, which includes those with jobs and those actively seeking work.

“The state’s trend of a declining labor force continue(d) for the sixth month in a row and was the primary factor behind the declining unemployment rate in December,” said Andy Condon, director of research for the state DOL, in a Jan. 17 statement.

The state’s civilian labor force decreased by 9,900 from November to December and by 45,500, or 2.4 percent, in 2012.

The annual drop represented the largest annual labor force decline since the state DOL began using electronic records in 1976, and caused the state’s unemployment rate to decline to 8.6 percent from 8.9 percent in November.

Job gains in December came in education and health services, manufacturing and the construction and mining sector.

Sectors that saw employment decline in December included trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and financial services, among other areas.

“The only bright lining in the report was that we did see there were 800 jobs added in manufacturing and 500 in construction and mining,” Gioia said.

In the Bridgeport-Stamford labor market area, employment was up 0.1 percent from November and 0.2 percent for the year.

Employment in the Danbury labor market area was virtually unchanged both over the month and over the whole of 2012.

Statewide, average weekly earnings for all private sector employees were up $3.87, or 0.4 percent compared with December 2011.

David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc L.L.C., a Norwalk human resources firm, said that based on job posting data, the Fairfield County job market is showing signs of improvement.

“The last six months of 2012 were strong months compared to the prior 18 (months) as far as job postings are concerned,” said Lewis, whose company acquired AllCountyJobs.com L.L.C., a regional online job board network, last summer. “December is the worst month historically (for postings on AllCountyJobs.com). This year, postings didn’t drop off to the level they normally do – they stayed pretty much neck and neck with what the numbers looked like for posting volume in October and November.”

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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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