Friday, September 03, 2010

CT's Unemployment 4th Highest In Nation

from The Hartford Business Journal

Connecticut's long-term unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the country, and the number of underemployed residents in the state has reached historic highs, according to a new study released Friday.

The long-term unemployment rate in Connecticut, meaning the share of unemployed workers who have been out of work for 6 months or more, despite looking for work, stands at 37 percent, tying the state with Rhode Island for the highest rate in New England, according a report by the Connecticut Voices for Children, an advocacy group.

Connecticut's long-term unemployment rate is also significantly above the national average of 32 percent, with older workers 55 and up, and college educated workers taking the longest time to find a new job.

Meanwhile the state's underemployment rate - which includes the unemployed, part-time workers who want to work full-time, and discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work -- is at a historic high for the state, at 14 percent, the report said.

Over the recession, Connecticut lost 103,400 jobs at rate of close to 5,000 jobs a month, hitting a low of 1,608,100 jobs in December of 2009.The state has since added back 12,000 jobs, but this represents only 12% of the total jobs lost over the recession, the report said.

The study also finds that only the health and Education job sector showed significant job growth during the current recession and that the continued health of this job sector may be threatened by the prospect of state budget cuts.

Steep losses of middle-class jobs in the state as well as racial, ethnic, and gender wage gaps also limit economic opportunities, according to the report.

"To restore opportunity for Connecticut families, we need to maintain our supports for them until we can get Connecticut's economy working again," said Jamey Bell, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children. "We can't return to economic prosperity by undercutting supports for struggling families."

Among the report's other findings:

In recent years, middle-wage occupations have experienced the steepest job losses. This group of occupations, which include middle-class jobs such as carpenters, truck drivers, and bookkeepers, have lost 6.8 percent of their positions between 2006 and 2009.

Racial, ethnic, and gender gaps in wages are much wider in Connecticut than among workers in other states. The median wage for Connecticut's African Americans was only 62 percent of the white median wage in 2009, compared to 78 percent for African Americans nationally. Hispanics earned only 60 percent of the median wage of whites in the state, compared to 70 percent nationally.

Connecticut also has the sixth worst gender gap in wages among all states, with women earning 76 percent of men's median wages, compared to 82 percent nationally.

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