Two indicators used to determine the economic climate in Connecticut appear to show opposite takes of the state’s employment levels. One survey shows that 5,100 positions were added in July, but a household survey that measure the unemployment rate shows fewer jobs and more people out of work.
“The complete disagreement between our two key indicators of labor market health in Connecticut make an assessment of market conditions difficult at best this month,” says Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research at the Connecticut Department of Labor, in a statement. “These programs have proven vital to our understanding of economic conditions in Connecticut, but will have to wait until more data comes in to see if July’s results were a statistical anomaly or an early indicator of a turning point in the economy, as yet uncorroborated by other data.”
Despite the change in the unemployment rate, most of Connecticut Labor Market Areas saw job gains in July. The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area had 2,500 new jobs, the New Haven area saw 1,700 and the Bridgeport-Stamford Norwalk area gained 2,200. The Norwich-New London area was unchanged. Danbury was the only area to lose jobs with a decline of 800. Local information on each muncipality has not been released yet.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expressed skepticism of the results, which show a rise in unemployment from 8.1 percent in June to 8.5 percent in July. He issued lengthy statement about the July jobs report.
I am skeptical about the jobs numbers released today. The employer survey states that Connecticut added more than 5,000 private sector jobs in the month of July. The household survey suggests the state lost 15,100 jobs during that same time period. That’s a difference of more than 20,000 jobs. A gap of this magnitude between these two surveys has never happened in the 22 years they’ve been conducted.
To buy into the household survey number you’d have to believe that Connecticut lost 503 jobs every day during the month of July, and there’s just no evidence to suggest that happened. Unemployment claims have drifted upward, but not at a rate that justifies the household survey number.
Hence the skepticism.
Here’s what we do know. First, as people flood back into the job market because they’re optimistic they can find work, the unemployment rate goes up. Second, it’s going to take more than 20 months to turn around a state economy that failed, on a net basis, to grow jobs for more than 20 years. Third, while we’d like to think we completely control our own economic fate, we don’t. Like virtually every other state, we’re struggling because the national recovery is struggling. And fourth, the uncertainty in Europe continues to act like a lead weight on our backs.
The phrase ‘worst economic downturn since the Great Depression’ is used so often, we’ve become immune to the words. But they’re true. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that pulling the country and our state out of that downturn is hard. Really hard.
But let me be clear: we are making progress, and I have every confidence we’ll continue to make progress. Just yesterday, we announced an agreement that will retain more than 1,200 high paying jobs with good benefits and create up to 1,000 more in our state. It’s also important to remember that the private sector in Connecticut has created more than 23,000 jobs since January of 2011, according to the employer survey.
I have no doubt that some are going to use this data to advance an agenda. I’m a politician, I get it. But the people of Connecticut need to see beyond the political rhetoric and understand the realities.
Most of all, the people of Connecticut need to know that my administration continues to work day and night to do whatever we can to foster economic growth. We remain committed to creating good-paying jobs that have good benefits, and we remain committed to making an economic recovery a reality.