FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s unemployment rate reached its lowest mark in four years at the end of 2012, but 749 fewer Fairfield residents held jobs than did a year earlier.
Fairfield posted an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent in December 2012, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor. That was 1.5 percentage points lower than the state’s rate of 7.8 percent and a slight drop from the town’s 6.4 percent rate in December 2011. The last time Fairfield saw a lower rate was in January 2009, when unemployment was 6.2 percent.
But 26,697 Fairfield residents reported having jobs at the end of 2012, a difference of 749 or 2.8 percent from the same month in 2011. The town’s 1,794 people listed as unemployed was also down from December 2011, when that figure was 1,886.
The reason for the discrepancy is the shrinking size of Fairfield’s total labor market, defined by the state as those working or actively looking for work. Fairfield’s total labor force was 28,491 in December, compared with 29,332 at the end of 2011. The figure was also down significantly from its peak of 30,373 in July 2012, when unemployment was 8.3 percent in Fairfield.
"The state's trend of a declining labor force continues for the sixth month in a row and was the primary factor behind the declining unemployment rate in December," said Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research at the Department of Labor.
"With the arrival of the December preliminary jobs report, it is apparent that the rate of job growth slowed considerably in the last half of the year, however, we expect the level of jobs in the state to be revised upward when the benchmark is complete in March."
Fairfield’s experience is similar to the rest of the labor market throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut as a whole. Fairfield County's unemployment rate dropped from 8 percent to 7 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. Its labor force also dropped from 481,769 to 466,279 in that time. Statewide, the unemployment rate went from 8.8 percent to 7.8 percent, while the labor force dropped from 1,918,127 to 1,853,820.