Connecticut had the fastest shrinking labor force in 2012

New Haven-based economist Donald Klepper-Smith crunched some numbers on the labor force and found Connecticut ranked first in the nation in both the total number of people who quit the labor force and the percentage decline in workers and available workers.

The labor force is a technical measure that includes all people who are employed and all people actively looking for a job.

“We’re moving in the wrong direction and we’re moving there fast,” Klepper-Smith said by phone Wednesday. He said this data should have the state rethinking its policies and trying to understand what it can do to help reverse this trend.

In 2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic data Klepper-Smith reviewed, Connecticut’s labor force shrunk 2.68 percent, losing 51,130 people. That’s like having the entire population of Milford no longer engaged in work.

Klepper-Smith said a variety of factors are contributing to the loss of workers in Connecticut, including a rise in discouraged workers who abandon the hunt for jobs after being unemployed, people moving out of the state, working in the underground economy and people retiring.

The five states with the largest drops in labor force in 2012

1. Connecticut 51,130

2. Missouri 47,815

3. Indiana 44,349

4. Oregon 39,073

5. Ohio 38,301

Top five states for labor force growth in 2012

1. Pennsylvania 184,149

2. Texas 127,602

3. New York 92,889

4. North Carolina 63,619

5. Illinois 63,595

Rob Varnon