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State Unemployment Numbers Up And Down

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STEPHEN SINGER
AP Business Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An unusual monthly jobs report for July shows that employers in Connecticut added more than 5,000 jobs even as the unemployment rate jumped sharply, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

A business survey shows that 5,100 jobs were added in July while a household survey indicates a sharp drop in employment and a spike in the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent, up 0.4 percent from June. The discrepancy is a first in the 22 years the surveys have been conducted and forced officials to abandon any effort to draw conclusions.

“The complete disagreement between our two key indicators of labor market health in Connecticut makes an assessment of market conditions difficult at best this month,” said Labor Department Research Director Andy Condon. “These surveys have proven to be fairly decent indicators of what’s going on in the state, but it’s difficult to reconcile the two.”

Condon spoke with reporters and others on a conference call in an effort to explain the anomaly. He said the statistics are “incongruent.”

“It is not rare that two surveys disagree,” he said. “What is rare is that they disagree so much. It’s at least possible that one or the other is anomalous this month. That’s not very likely. We’re left with little else to look at.”

For example, unemployment rates often will rise even as jobs are created because the labor force is expanding, with more workers looking for work.

Condon said more data are needed to see if the results in July were a statistical fluke or an early indicator that joblessness could increase.

If it is not revised downward, Connecticut’s unemployment rate is higher than the national rate, which ticked up to 8.3 percent in July from 8.2 percent in June. The U.S. economy generated 163,000 jobs in July after three months of weak hiring, a sign it could grow modestly even as the rest of the world slows down.

Peter Gioia, an economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said the addition of 5,100 jobs in July “is a good performance for a single month.”

However, a gain of 7,100 jobs since July 2011, or 0.4 percent growth, is “troubling and shows only a weak recovery,” he said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that he was skeptical about the July employment report.

“To buy into the household survey number you’d have to believe that Connecticut lost 503 jobs every day during the month of July, and there’s just no evidence to suggest that happened,” he said. “Unemployment claims have drifted upward, but not at a rate that justifies the household survey number.”

The state also revised a preliminary estimate of 1,400 new jobs, a 0.4 percent increase, to a loss of 100 jobs.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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