Connecticut posted its best monthly jobs growth for the year in May, adding a net 7,800 positions with gains in several key industry sectors.

The state has now recovered 63% of the historic 292,400 jobs lost to COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns in March and April last year, with 18,300 jobs added in the first five months of this year.

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the strong monthly gains were a reflection of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing confidence among workers and employers.

“That’s the largest jobs growth since last October,” DiPentima said in response to the state Department of Labor’s June 22 release of the May employment report.

“COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations have continued to decline since the lifting of restrictions on May 19 and Connecticut continues to be a leader among states in rolling out the vaccine.

“That’s driving greater confidence among residents and employers.”

Hiring Challenges

DiPentima said while employers continue to face challenges finding and recruiting workers, there are signs the labor market is recovering,

“Factors such as fears about contracting COVID, the lack of widely available childcare, and federal unemployment benefits, appear to be lessening their impact on job growth,” he said. “That needs to continue for Connecticut to unlock its economic potential.

“The vaccination campaign, this month’s reinstatement of the work-search requirement for unemployment claimants, and people embracing the lifting of restrictions give me plenty of optimism that we will continue to see growth in the coming months.

“Vaccinations, the reinstatement of the work-search requirement, and people embracing the lifting of restrictions give me plenty of optimism.”

CBIA’s Chris DiPentima

“Not to mention the just completed legislative session, which certainly boosted business confidence in the state.”

Connecticut’s unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a point in May to 7.7%, the highest in the region and almost two percentage points higher than the national average of 5.8%.

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is 2.5%, the lowest in the region, followed by Vermont (2.6%), Maine (4.7%), Rhode Island (5.8%), Massachusetts (6.1%), and Connecticut.

Industry Sectors

Private sector employers added 8,600 jobs (0.6%) last month, led by strong gains in educational and health services, which gained 5,300 positions (1.6%).

Professional and business services gained 2,200 jobs (1.1%), followed by leisure and hospitality (1,900; 1.5%), and manufacturing (700; 0.5%).

Six of the state’s 10 industry sectors saw losses last month, led by government (which includes local, state, federal governments and casino employment), which lost 800 jobs (-0.4%).

Construction and mining lost 600 positions (-1%), followed by financial activities (-400; -0.3%), other services (-300; -0.5%); information (-100; -0.4%), and trade, transportation, and utilities (-100; -0.03%).

Four of the state’s six major labor markets posted gains in May, led by New Haven, which gained 1,200 jobs (0.4%).

Danbury added 300 jobs (0.4%), as did Hartford (0.1%), while Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk gained 200 (0.1%).

Norwich–New London–Westerly was unchanged for the month while Waterbury lost 100 jobs (-0.2%).

Northern and Midlands towns with sprawling warehouse distribution centres have emerged as the places in Britain with the strongest growth in job opportunities as the economy exits lockdown.

Reflecting the online shopping boom during the pandemic, data compiled by the jobs website Indeed and the Centre for Cities thinktank showed that Barnsley, Mansfield and Stoke-on-Trent – all strategic locations for distributors such as Amazon, Hermes and Asos – were staging the fastest recovery.

Internet sales accelerated during lockdown while nonessential shops were closed, fuelling the construction of vast warehouses on the outskirts of towns and cities dotted across the motorway network.

In contrast, towns and cities with a higher mix of hospitality, food and drink and tourism are lagging behind.

Belfast recorded a fall of 39% in job postings, as did Crawley in Sussex, which has struggled given the town’s proximity to Gatwick airport while flights remain largely grounded. London is also among slower places to recover, with job postings 26% below pre-pandemic levels.

London and the south-east have been disproportionately hit by job losses during the crisis, given higher numbers of office staff working from home, fewer international tourists and a greater reliance on hospitality and leisure jobs.

Aberdeen, which relies most on the North Sea oil industry, suffered the sharpest fall in job vacancies, plummeting to 53% below pre-pandemic levels.

Pawel Adrjan, an economist and head of European research at Indeed, said there were signs a “two-step jobs recovery” was taking place as lockdown measures were relaxed.

“While the partial reopening of the economy earlier this month rode to the rescue of many businesses and workers, our research shows that it alone was not enough to lift ailing area’s jobs levels significantly,” he said.

At the top end of the table, the study of 63 cities and large towns found that job postings now exceeded pre-pandemic levels in nine locations, led by Barnsley, with a 21% rise in the number of job ads tracked.

The parcel company Hermes is building its largest warehouse in Europe in the South Yorkshire market town, spending £60m on a distribution hub named Colossus near Junction 36 of the M1 and creating 1,300 jobs. Asos also has a large warehouse just outside the town.

Mansfield, which recorded 20% growth on pre-pandemic job ads, and Stoke-on-Trent, with 17%, are home to Amazon distribution centres, as well as Sports Direct, Sainsbury’s, Asda and New Look.

Elena Magrini, a senior analyst at the Centre for Cities, said that although there was growth in the number of job vacancies, many towns in the north and Midlands were still struggling.

“They were weaker before the pandemic, but pretty sheltered as their sectors weren’t affected as much, so are bouncing back more quickly,” she said.

“That said, they are bouncing back to a place of weakness. They had higher unemployment levels than the rest of the country before Covid-19, so the percentage increase might be big, but they are still struggling.”

Regional economist lists reasons many businesses are struggling to find new workers.

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The recovery surged in March, behind significant job gains across all three Central Oregon counties, the state Employment Department reported Tuesday. The region posted the strongest monthly job gains since last summer.

“The employment recovery in March was extraordinary, with monthly job gains the highest since early last summer, when the region began to move out of the initial lockdown phase,” Regional Economist Damon Runberg said in his monthly report.

“Businesses are hiring and workers are flooding back into the labor market,” Runberg said. “At the current pace of job growth, the region would completely recover all jobs lost in the COVID-19 recession by June,” he added.

Runberg added, “We are now one year out from the first pandemic impacts captured in the employment and labor force data. It is important to note that looking at over-the-year change is no longer a reflection of pre-COVID trends.”

Here’s his detailed report: 

Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly in March, to 7.3%, down from 7.9% in February. The unemployment rate remains higher than in March 2020, when it was 4.8%.

Employment levels rose significantly in March, up 120 jobs (+1.9%) on a seasonally adjusted basis. The monthly gains in March were the second highest in our current recovery, only trailing the June 2020 gain of 170 jobs, after the initial lockdowns eased.

Monthly job gains were spread across a variety of industries, with the largest in leisure and hospitality (+60 jobs) and construction (+50 jobs). There were also notable gains in education, health services, and professional and business services.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in March was down by only 90 jobs (-1.3%) from before the first COVID-19 impacts in February 2020.

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% in March, down from 6.8% in February. The rate remains up from March 2020, when it was 3.3%.

Hiring surged in March across Deschutes County, with 1,880 jobs (+2.2%) jobs added on a seasonally adjusted basis from February. The gains in March were the largest since last July, when the county added 2,760 jobs in a single month.

Those monthly gains were largely concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+1,120 jobs) as many restaurants reopened for indoor dining. However, there were also strong gains in retail trade, local government education, private education and health services, and manufacturing.

Compared with the Pre-COVID peak in February 2020, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in Deschutes County remained down just 3.4% (-3,030 jobs). Just three months ago, the county was down by 6.7%, — “an amazing pace of recovery over the past two months,” Runberg noted.

Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.8% in March, down from 6.9% in February. The rate was 4.2% in March 2020.

Jefferson County posted a gain of 40 jobs (~1%) on a seasonally adjusted basis in March, a slightly slower pace of growth than