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Massive Feb. Snowstorm Costs Jobs In Conn.

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) â¿¿ Last month's massive snow storm disrupted business and transportation, leading to a loss of 5,700 jobs, the Connecticut Labor Department said Thursday.

But still, the unemployment rate fell to 8 percent in February, from 8.1 percent in January.

If the storm affected labor markets, state officials say they expect to see previous trends in job growth trends resume in the coming months.

"Though our data can't point at any specific regions or industry sectors that would confirm the winter storm hampered job growth in February, that result seems likely," said Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department's office of research. "On the plus side, we continue to see the state's unemployment rate decline, if only at a modest pace."

Much of Connecticut was buried under nearly 3 feet of snow in the Feb. 8-9 storm. It took days to dig out in parts of the state.

Connecticut's unemployment remains above the national rate, which was 7.7 percent in February, the lowest level in four years. Nationally, employers added 236,000 jobs, exceeding predictions by economists.

Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research at DataCore Partners in New Haven and chief economic adviser to former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said the job loss in Connecticut compares unfavorably with national trends.

"I expected to see a solid job gain in February given the rise of 236,000 new jobs on the domestic front, and so I'd say that the figures were very disappointing and well below expectations," he said.

State officials said Connecticut has recovered 48,600, or about 40 percent, of the 121,200 jobs lost in the employment downturn that state labor officials say began in March 2008 and ended in February 2010. The recession extended from December 2007 to June 2009, followed by a weak recovery.

Only two sectors of the state's economy posted job gains in February: government and manufacturing. All other sectors, including professional and business services and education and health services, registered fewer jobs.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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