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CT sees return to pre-pandemic job levels, but labor shortage lingers

Amazon workers sort packages inside Amazon fulfillment center BDL 4 in Windsor, May 2, 2023. The fulfillment center is Windsor’s fourth and employs more than 2,000 full and part-time hourly and salaried employees.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Amazon workers sort packages inside Amazon fulfillment center BDL 4 in Windsor, May 2, 2023. The fulfillment center is Windsor’s fourth and employs more than 2,000 full and part-time hourly and salaried employees.

Connecticut has fully recovered the amount of jobs lost at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but job progress in the state is mixed compared to other areas of New England.

Data from the Connecticut Department of Labor in August show the state has fully recovered the 266,000 private sector jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

The milestone is good news for the state, said Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), but a persistent labor shortage still plagues Connecticut’s economy, he said.

“Those folks who live in the state, and the percentage of them that are working, or looking for work, the numbers are actually fairly good,” he said. “But we haven't had population growth in Connecticut — pretty much has been negligible — from the ‘08 recession until today.”

Connecticut’s unemployment rate of 3.6% is below the national rate of 3.8%. But the CBIA cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing nearby Massachusetts and New Hampshire have both seen more recent job growth compared to Connecticut.

The Northeast saw about a 4% population growth between 2010 and 2020, but growth in Connecticut was less than 1% during that time, according to federal census data.

“The real factor behind that lack of population growth is the [state’s] affordability,” DiPentima said.

The high cost of housing, utilities, and childcare continue to impact the decision to live and work in Connecticut, he said.

The jobs numbers come as a new United Way of Connecticut analysis says that two working adults with two young children in the state would have to make twice the soon-to-be hourly minimum wage of $15.69 to cover a basic survival budget for the family.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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