Connecticut companies added 2,600 jobs in March, with construction jobs the biggest contributor to growth.
According to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor, employers hired 2,900 construction workers in March, and construction employment is up 1,700, or 3.3 percent, compared to a year ago.
That number is larger than the overall job growth because other sectors shrank — for instance, durable goods manufacturers eliminated 700 positions.
The beginnings of recovery for the construction sector has also been seen as a hopeful sign for an improving U.S. economy.
Enfield Builders, a company with 22 employees, is one of those construction businesses that’s growing Dennis Brennan, director of business development, said recently they added a project engineer, a project manager and a site superintendent. The company is also interviewing for one laborer.
While construction hiring is often seasonal, this is a big contrast to this time last year.
“We didn’t hire last spring, we’re kind of a lean and mean operation,” he said. “Everybody works pretty hard, with the employees that we had last spring we were okay, and then we just saw a real need to hire this spring to cover the jobs we were getting.”
A year ago, Enfield Builders had 17 workers.
Enfield Builders needed the extra staff because it’s doing a renovation and an addition to a school in Western Massachusetts, a small piece of the UConn basketball practice facility, and the LEGO renovation project in Enfield. The combined size of these projects makes the company somewhat busier than it has been in recent years, he said.
Dozens of other construction ads in the state suggest that the construction sector may continue to be part of the state’s job growth in April.
Some of those ads are from firms doing public transportation work, including high-speed rail and the busway.
Because the job numbers have been quite volatile, economists at the state recommend looking at the three-month average of job growth, rather than any one month’s tally. By that measure, the number of jobs has grown by 1,100 a month since the beginning of the year, a slow rate, but not glacial.
A decent growth rate for Connecticut would be 1,350 jobs a month.
The unemployment rate in Connecticut, which is measured by a different survey, remained unchanged, at 8 percent. That rate is essentially unchanged from a year ago.
The national unemployment rate in March was 7.6 percent.