The good bad economy

Good news: The Connecticut Department of Labor says the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in November, due in large part to a surge in retail sales.

Bad news: The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, at UConn, reports that the jobless rate would be 11 percent if thousands of people hadn’t left the workforce since mid-2010.

Good news: The Labor Department estimates that the state has recovered nearly 64,000 positions — more than half the jobs that were lost during the 2008-10 recession.

Bad news: That doesn’t make up for the more than 64,000 people who have “simply stopped looking for employment.”

Good news: That 7.6 percent jobless rate is down from 7.9 percent in October and 8.3 percent in November 2012, the department told The Connecticut Mirror recently, and the rate has declined for three straight months.

Bad news: The UConn economic think tank says the 7.6 figure is “superficially encouraging” but “misleading” because of how much the workforce is shrinking; It is ”a smoke screen on the true situation” and, “in large measure, an artifact of declining participation.”

Good news: Education, health services and financial activities saw growth from October to November.

Bad news: Other key sectors of the economy declined, including leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, professional and business services.

Good news: Trade, transportation, utilities, construction and mining all added jobs in November.

Bad news: That still makes this, at best, “a slow, moderate recovery.”

Good news: The state’s economy recovered more than 4,000 private sector jobs in November alone, said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Bad news: He also said: “We still have much work to do.”

Good news: “We are making steady progress at growing our economy in a way that will create good paying jobs with good benefits for middle-class families,” the governor said.

Bad news: He also said: “But if you haven’t been able to get one of these jobs, then you’re not feeling the impact of these changes.”

Good news: Unemployment “is at its lowest level since 2009,” said a Malloy spokesman, with “the largest gains in private sector employment since the late 1990s.”

Bad news: There are “deeply discouraging budget projections,” said the center, that “promise a return of large deficits to the state’s operating budget within two years.”

Good news: Connecticut could create up to 28,000 new construction and related jobs over the next two years if it can launch projects worth just half of the amount on its backlog list of state building projects that have been approved but not yet started.

Bad news: That backlog list amounts to some $6 billion, and labor unions have argued that agencies overseeing such projects are understaffed and are also backlogged.

Good news: “November’s strong job growth offset some declines in the third quarter,” said a Labor Department spokesman, “returning us to the positive, though modest growth path we have seen throughout 2013.”

Bad news: That’s about all the good economic news there is right now.



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