BY MAGGIE GORDON
Hearst Connecticut Media
Connecticut added 6,400 jobs in January, kicking off 2015 on a positive note. But while the Department of Labor on Monday reported an uptick in the number of people clocking in every morning, and a steady unemployment rate of 6.3 percent, a revised benchmarking of last year’s figures shows that growth hasn’t come as quickly as the state previously reported.
While the state reported in January that the workforce included 1,690,000 people in December, the newly revised figures estimate the number is closer to 1,678,000 – a drop of about 12,000 people. The state, however, is still touting the revised figures as a positive for the economic recovery.
“Following the 2014 annual revision process undertaken by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut’s job growth picture and unemployment levels remain largely unchanged from their originally-published patterns,” Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, said in a statement. “Payroll job levels fell about 12,100 over what was originally published in December 2014, but levels were also adjusted down in December 2013, leaving seasonally adjusted annual growth at 25,100, or slightly less than what was reported previously.”
It’s a good news-bad news situation, said Connecticut economist Don Klepper-Smith.
“The good news is that we gained 6,400 jobs in January, so 2015 got off to a good start,” said Klepper-Smith, Farmington Bank’s economic adviser. “The bad news is … prior to this, data showed we had gained back 81 percent of the jobs we lost and now it’s 76 percent. So we’ve slipped 5 percentage points in terms of the job recovery rate.”
But while the numbers have been revised downward, the trajectory hasn’t shifted, noted Steven Lanza, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Connecticut.
“Maybe we’re not as far ahead as we thought we were, but the economy is moving along at the pace we thought it was, which has been pretty positive in recent quarters,” Lanza said. “I would rather have it that way than to say the number of jobs is better than they thought, but we’re going in the wrong direction.”
Even with revised figures, Lanza said he thinks it will only be a short amount of time until Connecticut sees a full recovery of jobs lost in the recession. He noted that a recovery rate of 6,400 jobs in one month, compared with about 24,000 jobs added in all of 2014, shows that the pace is picking up nicely.
“If the pace of recovery continues, we should be fully recovered by the later part of 2016 sometime,” he said.
Of the 6,400 jobs added to the Connecticut economy in January, 5,500 came from the private sector. The biggest gains were seen in the education and health services supersector, which added 2,800 jobs in January. The leisure and hospitality supersector tied with the professional and business services supersector for the second-largest growth, with each adding 2,100 positions.
Retail trade saw the biggest decline, losing 3,000 jobs in January – something that is experienced annually as stores pare down their seasonal employees hired to help them through the holiday rush. Manufacturing saw the second largest decline, with a loss of 900 jobs.
Hearst Connecticut Media includes four daily newspapers: Connecticut Post, Greenwich Time, The Advocate (Stamford) and The News Times (Danbury). See greenwichtime.com for more from this reporter.