June Good Month for Hiring in Connecticut

The Hartford Courant

Connecticut's employers added 1,700 jobs in June, a little faster than the average growth since the beginning of the jobs recovery in February 2010.

In some segments, hiring was quite strong, as business confidence rises.

"In our world, in the professional services world, if [clients] are doing well, we do well," said Carl Johnson, managing partner of BlumShapiro, an accounting, tax advice and business consulting firm with about 250 employees in Connecticut.

Firms that provide business services — such as accounting, legal services, design, IT and consulting — did the most private-sector hiring in June, according to a jobs report released by the state Department of Labor Thursday. These firms added 2,000 positions in June.

BlumShapiro recently made 17 entry-level hires in Connecticut and are employing 13 interns for the summer, up from 15 entry-level hires and a dozen interns last summer.

"There's a little extra spring in everybody's step," Johnson said. "The jobs are up, not only in Connecticut, but nationwide."

Connecticut's job-adding pace was about half the national job growth rate. Nationwide, employers added 288,000 jobs in June.

In June, the state's unemployment rate fell from 6.9 percent to 6.7 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008.

"Connecticut's unemployment rate continues to decline for all the right reasons," said Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor's Office of Research. The unemployment rate can drop either because people find jobs or because more people exit the labor market through retirement, going to school or just give up. This drop is because more people are working.

Connecticut's labor force has increased by more than 16,000 people since last June and has increased every month for the past six months.

Farmington resident Michele Paré is one of those thousands of people who re-entered the job market this year. She was out of the labor force for 11 years, as she was a stay-at-home mother with her two daughters.

She and her husband started thinking about how quickly college tuition bills were approaching, and so she called up her old boss at Keiler, a small advertising firm in Farmington. She had worked there for just 18 months 11 years ago, but made a great impression.

"Everything I knew about her, her intelligence, her work ethic, I knew this was a person I could get up to speed," said Lynn Taylor, president and CEO of the firm.

Paré had asked Taylor about returning in January, and the firm didn't need her then. Paré said she didn't try very hard to find work elsewhere. "I was still kind of dragging my feet about it."

But when Keiler landed more work a few months later, coincidentally from the same company that Paré served as an account manager back in the early 2000s, Taylor asked her to return.

Paré started work in May, and says she actually feels less stressed as a working mother, because she is not trying to be as perfect. "My friends have been like, 'This going back to work thing really agrees with you. Maybe I should try it.'"

While business services was the fastest-growing segment in June, over the year, wholesale trade and construction had the strongest growth.

In Connecticut, more than 55,000 people were working in construction in June — 5,000 more than in June 2010, but about 13,000 fewer than in the summer of 2007.

Chris Floyd, vice president of administration for construction management firm C.E. Floyd, said demand in Connecticut for the firm's services has been building over the last 18 months.

C.E. Floyd is headquartered in Bedford Mass, where it has 44 employees. The Connecticut office, in Middletown, has 18 workers, up from 10 a year ago.

The firm is about 17 percent smaller than it was in 2007, but at the low point in 2010, employment fell by half.

These are largely college-educated estimators, project managers and the like, and they supervise larger numbers of construction workers from subcontractors on site.

While he said a renovation in Avon underway now only needs 20 subcontractors, but there is a Connecticut project they will be starting in two months that will have 125 workers on site at peak employment.

Floyd said renovations, additions and new projects in senior living are driving growth. He said 63 percent of the firm's projects are in assisted living or campuses that will combine independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care.

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