Reversing a trend of growing job rates, the state lost a total of 3,700 jobs in February, according to a survey conducted by the Connecticut Department of Labor. Amid that decline, New Haven’s job rates grew.
For the past few months, Connecticut has experienced strong job growth statewide, including an increase of 7,500 new jobs in the month of January. Although the report finds declines for last month, economist at the Connecticut DOL Patrick Flaherty said the drop is not surprising.
“It’s just one month. Don’t get too carried away,” he said. “The fall in February was probably offsetting excessive growth in January.”
Flaherty said it is common to see strong growth in employment rates followed by a pullback.
Yale economics professor Giuseppe Moscarini agreed that a month with strong job growth is often followed by a month of job loss. In small states, he said, the reversal is particularly common because the smaller sample size is more conducive to sampling errors.
Besides the natural cycle of job growth and decline, cold weather also contributed to the fall, according to Flaherty.
“We had a very cold month in February. There are certain days when some people weren’t able to work,” Flaherty said.
The DOL collected their data using Current Employment Statistics, a program that surveys employers monthly, asking them how many people are on their payroll in a random week that month. Employees who do not show up to work for that chosen week are not on the payroll. Because there were certain weeks with severe weather in February, fewer people were on the payroll. Therefore, Flaherty said, the figure of 3,700 job losses does not account for those employees who are still employed but not on the payroll for a particular week.
Moscarini speculated that the strengthening of the dollar is another reason for February’s job loss. When the value of the dollar increases, American goods and services become more expensive, and therefore, they lose competitiveness in the international market. Manufacturing makes up a large part of international trade and also accounts for roughly 10 percent of Connecticut’s employment, Moscarini said. With manufacturing goods becoming less valuable internationally, manufacturing companies see declining business.
According to the survey data, education, construction and the food service industries have seen most declines. Flaherty said this is because these industries are vulnerable to severe weather.
“Construction is notoriously volatile, not just to the weather but swings in demand,” Moscarini said.
Although the CES did not break down the survey data by city, Flaherty said the data does show job growth in New Haven. He said the general trend over the past few years has been that large cities, such as New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport, experience significant job increases while small cities, such as Norwich and New London, experience slightly lower job growth.
New Haven expects continual job growth because of short-term and long-term construction projects, said City Hall Spokesman Laurence Grotheer.
In the short run, construction projects provide job opportunities to people like steel workers who are in the construction industry. In the long run, when the projects are complete and companies move into new buildings, people in other industries benefit from new job opportunities, Grotheer said.
“Together, [the construction projects] give the city a bright employment prospect,” Grotheer said.
Grotheer added that one example is the construction underway for Alexion, a global pharmaceutical company that expects to move into New Haven this year. Redevelopment of the New Haven Coliseum site, a $400 million construction project, will also bring more jobs.
Statistics from New Haven Job Corps exemplify the local upward trend of employment. Job Corps is a training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor to help young people find jobs. The six-month placement rate — which measures the percentage of students who retain their jobs six months after graduation — was 98.5 percent in February. This number is significantly higher than that from last February, according to Renee Venturino, business and community liaison at New Haven Job Corps Center.
The Job Corps program opens to young people from 16 years old to 24.