HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's labor market continued to strengthen as employers added jobs for the fifth straight month in June, driving the unemployment rate to its lowest level in more than five years, the state Department of Labor reported on Thursday.
Employers added 1,700 jobs in June for a total of 5,300 new jobs since June 2013. Adding to the positive jobs picture was an upward revision of job gains in May, to 6,000 from the initial report of 5,800.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent in May, the lowest since December 2008, a year into the worst recession in decades. It's still substantially higher than the U.S. rate of 6.1 percent.
The state unemployment rate peaked at 9.5 percent in October and November 2010, and has fallen slowly since.
"Connecticut's unemployment rate continues to decline for all the right reasons, such as broad industry job growth coupled with declining unemployment and an expanding labor force," said Andy Condon, the Labor Department's research director.
Summer hiring also seems to have begun at expected rates, he said.
Gary Rose, politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said the strengthening job market could help Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in his bid for a second term.
"It's just one trend. But any trend, large or small, that moves in the right direction helps the incumbent," he said.
Connecticut has recovered about 62 percent of the 119,100 jobs that were lost during the March 2008-to-February 2010 employment downturn. In comparison, the national economy has recovered all jobs that were lost. The recession officially ended in June 2009, though economic growth nationally and in Connecticut has been slow.
Economist Don Klepper-Smith, who served as an adviser to former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, called the June numbers lackluster.
Job growth in Connecticut since June 2013 was 0.3 percent, one-sixth the national rate of 1.8 percent, he said.
"In this respect, watching the Connecticut labor market progress is like watching paint dry," Klepper-Smith said.
Hiring was led by the state government, which added 1,400 jobs. The Labor Department said that may have been related to summer hiring.
Peter Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said Connecticut is benefiting from the strengthening national economy. In particular, increased demand from outside Connecticut is helping the state's financial services, manufacturing and aerospace industries.