In a signal of the underlying strength of the Connecticut economy heading into the autumn, unemployment claims dropped by the third largest margin on record with the commencement of the new school year.
After a strong July for hiring with a revised gain of 8,700 jobs, Connecticut economy added another 2,900 jobs in August, according to preliminary estimates released Thursday by the Connecticut Department of Labor, as more people commenced job searches.
While that pushed the official unemployment rate four-tenths of a point to 4.1 percent, the number of Connecticut residents receiving unemployment assistance dropped last week to about 19,130 people, according to a separate report Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
That was down by roughly 7,050 claimants from the prior week, a 27-percent drop was the third steepest on record going back to 1987 according to federal data. Connecticut saw a similar drop after the beginning of the 2021 school year, as bus drivers resumed the rounds among other seasonal job fluctuations.
If DOL estimates are accurate, Connecticut remains 36,000 jobs below the 1.7 million mark it hit in January 2020 for overall employment, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered mass furloughs. DOL tracked more than 90,000 job postings in August, after a run with the monthly total above 100,000 postings.
“The unemployment rate increase is directly related to that expansion of the workforce — people who previously weren’t looking for jobs are now back in the labor market,” stated Dante Bartolomeo, Connecticut labor commissioner, in written comments accompany the report. “August was another strong and steady month for Connecticut with continued job growth and an expanding pool of workers.”
The hangover of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on the labor market, with some parents struggling to find or afford day care for young children. And researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University estimate that roughly 500,000 U.S. workers remain on the sidelines as a result of residual health problems after contracting COVID-19, in a study posted this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Lockheed Martin continues to hire at its Sikorsky subsidiary in Stratford and other businesses nationally, as it deals with a growing backlog of orders in part due to the labor and supply disruptions of the pandemic, the company’s chief financial officer told CTInsider this week.
“Particularly earlier this year in our operations and in our supply chain, we were impacted by the latest variants,” said Jay Malave, CFO of Lockheed Martin. “I view it really as a cumulative impact — it really was almost like the straw that broke the camel’s back where it just exacerbated issues that already existed.
“It’s not going to be an easy fix,” Malave added. “It’s going to be something that’s going to take probably multiple years to really dig out from.”
This week, the U.S. Travel Association released estimates that the hospitality sector is working out of the deepest hole of any major industry, with its job count still 7.2 percent below pre-pandemic levels, roughly in line with the Connecticut hospitality industry’s job gap.
While hourly labor remains in demand nationally, that is the case as well for upper-earning professionals according to the CEO of Korn Ferry, an executive recruitment firm with a Stamford office.
“I would say that we have an enormous potential given the labor trends that we’re seeing in the marketplace around professional search,” said Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison, speaking last week on a conference call. “This labor imbalance is real.”
Dan Haar contributed to this report. Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott and Luther Turmelle.