WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- Job growth in Connecticut continues, but the unemployment rate remains stuck at a relatively high 8 percent, state labor officials said Thursday.
Employers added 1,000 jobs in May, adding to the strongest five-month start of a year in employment gains since the jobs recovery began in 2010, the state Labor Department said as it released the monthly report.
The employment gains in May followed an increase of 6,400 jobs in April, helping to propel job growth in in Connecticut in four of the first five months of 2013. Employment fell only in February when businesses closed or were sidelined by a massive snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast.
The unemployment rate remained stuck at 8 percent for the fourth consecutive month. The rate of joblessness in Connecticut has been above 8 percent since May 2009, peaking at 9.4 percent in the five months from August to December 2010. The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 7.6 percent.
Connecticut labor officials say the rate is high because more people have entered the labor force looking for work.
"People are seeing others looking for work, finding work so they're back in the game," said Patrick Flaherty, a Labor Department economist.
The state has added 12,500 jobs since May 2012, with private sector hiring stronger than government employment, which is lower this year than in 2012.
Economist Don Klepper-Smith, who advised former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said Connecticut's job growth lags the United States. At the current pace, Connecticut won't achieve full job recovery until early 2016, he said.
Labor markets are improving in Connecticut, with employment up a modest 0.4 percent in the first five months of 2013, but the labor force has declined by 30,700 workers during the last year, a drop of 2 percent, Klepper-Smith said.
The Labor Department, too, is warning of potential hazards. Andy Condon, the agency's research director, said automatic federal budget cuts that took effect earlier this year could hamper job growth in Connecticut for the remainder of the year. The state's military contractors are particularly vulnerable to Pentagon cuts.