Why CT's economy is recovering...slowly

Photo of Ginny Monk
From left, Tyrone Whitaker, recently hired by Yale New Haven Hospital for patient transport, Connecticut NAACP President Scot X Esdaile, and community outreach workers Carli Knox and Corrie Betts are photographed in New Haven with signs advertising the NAACP Million Jobs Campaign on Nov. 12, 2021. Health services was one of the sectors that contributed to Connecticut’s gain of 5,300 jobs in October 2021.

From left, Tyrone Whitaker, recently hired by Yale New Haven Hospital for patient transport, Connecticut NAACP President Scot X Esdaile, and community outreach workers Carli Knox and Corrie Betts are photographed in New Haven with signs advertising the NAACP Million Jobs Campaign on Nov. 12, 2021. Health services was one of the sectors that contributed to Connecticut’s gain of 5,300 jobs in October 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Connecticut is living up to its“Land of Steady Habits” nickname with its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It gained 5,300 jobs in October — the 10th straight month of rising employment, according to data released last week by the state Department of Labor.

Also auspicious is the decline in unemployment — now down to 6.4 percent, after five straight months of decreases. The state has now recovered 73 percent of the approximately 292,000 jobs it lost in March and April 2020. 

“Both the job numbers and the unemployment rate continue to move in the right direction,” said state labor commissioner Danté Bartolomeo. “The jobs numbers especially give us a reason to be optimistic that these trends will carry through the rest of 2021. There is still work to do across all sectors to regain the jobs lost during the pandemic shutdown, but the data signal a stable economic recovery is underway.” 

But the gradual nature of the recovery worries many — particularly since the job growth rate trails the nationwide average and those of several neighboring states. The large number of people who are staying out of the workforce despite the abundance of openings is also concerning.

“There are 79,500 fewer people working now than in February of last year, despite something on the order of 70,000 job openings,” said Connecticut Business & Industry Association CEO and President Chris DiPentima. “The question is this: ‘Where have these people gone?’”

Businesses across the state are acutely feeling the labor shortage. But if their intensifying recruitment efforts  —  including “super-season” pay for holiday workers  —  end up filling a significant number of those openings, then Connecticut might be able to recoup in the foreseeable future all of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020.

Until then, however, doubts will persist about this slow and steady recovery. 

By Paul Schott 
pschott@stamfordadvocate.com
Twitter: @paulschott