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Connecticut Job Losses Hamper Economic Recovery

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Job gains made earlier in the year in Connecticut have slowed again and could signal a longer period of economic stagnation – even in affluent Fairfield County – say business leaders.

Those fears are backed up by numbers released Thursday by the Connecticut Department of Labor, which shows that although the state gained 2,900 jobs in July, it lost 8,600 jobs in August.

The state's unemployment rate declined slightly in August to 9 percent, just less than the national 9.1 average. But the state's Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated "an unprecedented July to August loss of jobs in Connecticut's local government sector."

Of the 10 major industry sectors, only two showed gains, according to Labor Statistics Supervisor Salvatore DiPillo. "Some industry sectors that showed job gains in the first quarter of the year have subsequently lost jobs," DiPillo said in a statement. "Unfortunately, as is the case nationally, job creation in Connecticut appears to have lost momentum."

He said the state's construction industry, which began losing jobs in mid-2007 – before most other sectors – lost 20,500, or 30 percent of its jobs between that time and December 2010. "There were gains in early 2011, but in recent months employment in this sector has stagnated," DiPillo said.

That's not a good sign for economic recovery, say Fairfield County business leaders, who are hoping President Obama's $450 billion American Jobs Act will help reverse a recession and debilitating unemployment rate that has hovered at about 9 percent for three years.

"It's been a terrible recession, and very slow business growth has occurred," said Joe McGee, vice president for public policy of the Business Council of Fairfield County.

Stanley McMillen, managing economist for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, said there are too many "unpredictable factors" to know when the stagnant economy and high unemployment rate will improve. "But I can see stagnation in Connecticut for up to the next 18 months."

To reach Richard Weizel, email him at rweizel@mainstreetconnect.us .

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