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New stats point to rebound for pandemic-ravaged CT industries, state officials say

Gilman Gear PPE
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
FILE: Cameron White works a sewing machine surrounded by piles of white disposable gowns and blue surgical gowns in the Gilman Gear factory in Bozrah, Conn., July 27, 2020. The company made sports equipment for the NCAA and NFL, but when the sports market collapsed because of COVID-19, it pivoted to making isolation gowns.

Connecticut’s private sector has regained almost 97% of the jobs the state lost in the pandemic shutdown of 2020, according to officials at the state Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is down to 3.9% from a high of 11.7% in May 2020. “And, our weekly claims filings for unemployment insurance are at [a] historic 35-year low,” said Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo. “We haven’t seen these numbers since 1987.”

Certain industries are doing better today than they were prior to the pandemic.

“Construction is actually well above pre-pandemic levels,” said Patrick Flaherty, research director at the DOL.“So is professional and business services, private education, wholesale trade, transportation. A number of industries are well above pre-pandemic levels.”

Both Bartolomeo and Flaherty said that, while it’s mostly rosy, this latest news is not all rosy — particularly when it comes to the employment rate. “We usually see claims fall pretty significantly in February,” Flaherty said. “They did not this year, they stayed at their January level, a low level, but we might have expected to see it fall even lower.”

“Some of the numbers aren't making sense as they always have,” Bartolomeo said. “So we're working really hard to interpret that.”

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. In his 20th year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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