BY ALEXANDER SOULE
Hearst Connecticut Media
Connecticut’s construction industry added an estimated 2,400 jobs in May, the fastest growth the sector has seen dating to 1990, which is as far back as the state Department of Labor posts industry data online.
Including the construction sector’s gains, Connecticut added an estimated 6,400 jobs in May, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor, dropping the unemployment rate to 6 percent from an adjusted 6.2 percent in April.
The Labor Department reported the figures hours before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was scheduled to visit the new Stamford headquarters of Vineyard Vines, which plans to maintain a workforce of 200 people at Shippan Landing, also running retail stores in Greenwich and Westport.
“We had a fantastic month,” Malloy said. “What you’re seeing is a continuation of a trend that began four years ago, and that is very active and robust job growth here in Connecticut — and, let me point out, on a sustained basis.”
The number of Connecticut residents lacking jobs is now just above 115,000 people, down by about 9,450 people from May 2014 when the jobless rate was at 6.6 percent. The unemployment rate fell even as the state’s labor force increased for the 20th consecutive month, with more than 1.9 million people employed as of May.
At 58,400 jobs, construction industry employment is now at its highest level since January 2009 when it reached 59,100 jobs; it peaked at 69,400 jobs the previous January. Nationally, the construction sector added 17,000 jobs in May for a 0.2 percent increase, with the Association of Builders and Contractors trade group noting the gains are putting wage pressure on construction companies.
Stamford and Danbury have been hotbeds of new construction in Connecticut, with ongoing projects including the new building for Stamford Hospital taking shape on the city’s west side; F. D. Rich’s Summer House apartment high-rise nearing completion downtown; and the Rivington by Toll Brothers residential development in Danbury.
The Labor Department does not break out industry sectors by geography. Statewide, the construction industry’s employment was up 4.3 percent from April and 4.8 percent from May 2014.
The catchall category of trade, transportation and utilities — covering a wide range of activities from bus drivers to sewage facilities — registered the biggest jobs gain in May, totaling 3,200 new positions for a 1.1 percent gain from April.
Manufacturing suffered the steepest drop from April, with the state estimating the sector shed 1,000 jobs but still holding steady from May 2014.
Hearst Connecticut Media includes four daily newspapers: Connecticut Post, Greenwich Time, The Advocate (Stamford) and The News-Times (Danbury). See stamfordadvocate.com for more from this reporter.