More jobs lost in Connecticut

Connecticut lost 3,700 jobs in the month of August, according to the Labor Situation Report released by the state Thursday afternoon.

Last month’s losses brought the state’s unemployment rate up to 8.1 percent, below the national rate of 9.7 percent. And within Connecticut, New Haven appears to be holding up well in the face of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. But the Department of Labor’s data show that recent losses are in line with the national trend.

“The glass is either half full or half empty,” economist Nicholas Perna said. “The bad news is that we lost 3,700 jobs; the good news is that we aren’t doing as bad as the rest of the country.”

Perna, a lecturer in the Yale Economics Department and an economic advisor to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said the New Haven region’s concentration of education and health care jobs — the only growing sector in the state’s economy — contributed to its having lost jobs at half the rate of the state at large.

A Brookings Institute report compiled this summer listed the New Haven metropolitan area as one of the 20 strongest metropolitan areas in the country.

“Curiously, unemployment in the New Haven area is about the same as the state’s,” Perna said. “That is in contrast to the previous two recessions, where New Haven fared poorly.”

The 0.2 percent increase in state unemployment is comparable to the 0.3 percent national increase, a sharp contrast from earlier this year, when the increase in national unemployment outpaced Connecticut’s.

Perna noted that in recessions past, Fairfield County has had a far lower unemployment rate than the rest of the state. But he said the collapse of the financial services industry has erased that gap.

Rell released the state’s first Economic Strategic Plan on Wednesday in an effort to make the state more appealing to businesses and investments, and continue increasing statewide employment.

The 550-page plan includes the creation of a port authority for the state’s airports and shipping ports, promoting regionalism among the state’s 169 independent municipalities, and creating a $100 million public-private student loan forgiveness program for the sciences and engineering.

“When I first proposed developing this plan, Connecticut’s employment was approaching an all-time high of more than 1.7 million jobs,” Rell said, noting that the state has since lost over 100,000 jobs. “These economic challenges have made the plan all the more important, even as they have complicated its development.”

The New Haven area lost 600 jobs in August and a total of 2.1 percent of its jobs since that time last year. In contrast, the state has lost 4.2 percent of its jobs since last year.

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