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Labor officials blame snowy, bitter cold February for job losses, rise in unemployment rate

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WETHERSFIELD, Connecticut — The string of snow storms and bitter cold in February cost Connecticut jobs, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state lost 3,700 nonfarm jobs in February, snapping a seven-month streak of rising employment. State labor economists blamed business closings and work interruptions for the jobs downturn.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.4 percent from 6.3 percent in January. The U.S unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February.

"Connecticut's record cold February temperatures and frequent snow (appear) to have affected industry employment, hours worked and some unemployment claims activity last month," said Andy Condon, Director of the Office of Research

The month's job loss was a "blip," he said.

"There's nothing fundamental we would see that would change anything," Condon said.

Employment has been picking up as the economic recovery has gained strength. Connecticut's nonfarm employment has increased by 25,800 positions, or 2,150 jobs per month on average, since February 2014.

Over the year, the number of unemployed has fallen by 9,583, though it increased last month by 1,744.

Previous Februaries have hit the labor force hard. During the so-called polar vortex in February 2014, jobs declined by 3,800 and in February 2013, when a storm dumped 40 inches of snow, 3,500 jobs were lost, the state said.

Connecticut has recovered 87,900 jobs, or about 74 percent of total nonfarm jobs that were lost during the March 2008-to-February 2010 employment recession. The national economy has regained more than all of the lost jobs.

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