Slow job growth in 2021 highlights recovery issues |

Connecticut added 51,200 jobs in 2021, at 3.3%, the second-slowest rate among New England states and below US growth of 4.5%.

The state has recovered 75% of the historic 292,400 jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to pandemic shutdowns and restrictions, ahead of only Vermont (73%) in the New England region.

AABC’s Chris DiPentima says the pace of job growth in the state “must be considered a top priority.”

US employers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire tied for the highest recovery rate (81%), followed by Maine (80%) and Rhode Island (77%). The national recovery rate is 84%.

“The addition of 51,200 jobs in 2021 is welcome news, although the anemic pace of our job recovery remains a major concern and must be addressed as a top priority,” said the President and CEO of the CBAA, Chris DiPentima.

“Massachusetts, for example, posted 6.6% job growth last year, while Rhode Island was at 6.1%.”

Connecticut’s recovery stalled at the end of the year, with just 600 jobs added in December as the ministry of labor halved the gain of 5,600 jobs initially announced in November.

Declining labor force

The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points last month—down 2.4 points over the year– but remains tied for sixth in the country and well above the US rate of 3.9%.

The state’s labor force — the number of employed workers plus those actively seeking work — fell another 17,000 in 2021 and is down 92,000 (5%) since February 2020.

“There are 74,300 fewer people working in Connecticut today than in February 2020, despite approximately 70,000 unfilled job openings,” DiPentima said.

“Eighty percent of employers say they have difficulty finding and retaining workers. Labor shortages pose the greatest threat to Connecticut’s economic recovery and long-term growth.”

Unemployment rate
Connecticut’s unemployment rate is tied for sixth among all states.

DiPentima said the CFIA’s policy priorities for 2022, released Jan. 21, “provide a comprehensive framework for addressing this crisis.”

“Based on last year’s growth rate, we won’t recover all of the COVID-related job losses for another 18 months, and that’s not acceptable if we expect the economy to grow.

“It’s critical that policymakers avoid labor mandates and fiscal policies that have held back our economy for too long and are doing more than no harm,” he said.

“They must make jobs and economic growth a central goal of the 2022 legislative session so that we can realize Connecticut’s enormous economic potential.”

Leisure and hospitality managers

Employment increased in eight of the state’s top 10 industrial sectors in 2021, led by recreation and hospitality, which added 15,900 jobs (13.4%).

Education and health services gained 11,300 jobs last year (3.5%), followed by professional and business services (9,200; 4.5%), other services (4,400; 7.6 %), construction (4,000; 7.1%), government (3,800; 1.7%), manufacturing (3,300; 2.2%), and trade, transportation and utilities (1,800; 0.6%).

Connecticut COVID-19 Jobs Resumption
Construction is the only industrial sector where employment is above pre-pandemic levels.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 1,000 jobs in December, more than a third (36%) of its 2021 gains.

Professional and business services lost 700 jobs (-0.3%) last month, information (-100; -0.4%) and leisure and hospitality (-100; -0.1% ) also being down.

The key manufacturing sector led all sectors in December, adding 800 jobs to mark six straight months of gains.

Financial activities, information decline

Financial activities lost another 1,300 jobs in 2021 and employment in this critical sector is now 4,300 (-3.5%) below pre-pandemic levels.

Employment in the information sector fell by 1,200 (-4.1%) last year, with 3,400 fewer people (-11%) employed than in February 2020.

Connecticut’s six major labor markets posted gains for the year, led by New Haven with 11,200 new jobs (4%).

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk added 11,100 jobs (3%) in 2021, followed by Hartford (7,900; 1.4%), Danbury (2,700; 3.8%), Norwich-New London-Westerly (2,700; 2.4%) and Waterbury (1,500; 2.3%).

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