Employment in Connecticut small businesses with less than 20 employees increased by 0.06 percent in May, according to Intuit’s May Small Business Indexes. That’s about one-third of the employment rise nationwide, which was 0.17 percent, according to the report. The report also shows that the average monthly pay of hourly employees rose in May by $17, or 0.6 percent, over the previous month. They were compensated the equivalent of $2,804, according to the report. But small-business employees also worked more hours in May, up 0.8 percent, or about 48 minutes, for an average annual equivalent of 112.3 hours.

 A dwindling labor force and decreased economic expansion indicate “slower growth” in 2014 and 2015, according to Daniel W. Kennedy, senior economist with the Connecticut Economic Digest. In an article for the June issue, Kennedy writes that what initially appear to be positive economic directions in fact could be the result of negative occurrences.

“[A]fter increasing in March, 806,000 left the labor force in April, making a shrinking labor force the principal reason for the declining [unemployment rate],” writes Kennedy. “And the first estimate of U.S. GDP for 2014 Q1 showed that U.S. economic growth rapidly decelerated.” He goes on to blame “the bursting of the housing bubble” and its “persistent drag on the economy” for the sluggish economic recovery. Hartford and Bridgeport were hit especially hard, he notes. Kennedy also believes that as the economy recuperates, the greatest job gains will be in the education-health care and social assistance sector and the leisure-hospitality sector.

 WETHERSFIELD — “[A] pattern of continuing job growth for Connecticut” is what the Department of Labor’s Office of Research says the latest labor-situation numbers show for April. Nonfarm jobs increased by 2,200 for the month, and unemployment dropped slightly to 6.9 percent. “Both the establishment and household employment surveys are pointing to an improving labor market going forward for the state after extreme winter volatility,” said Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research.


Sectors that gained positions in April included transportation and public utilities (800), education and health services (700), leisure and hospitality (700), financial activities (500), construction (500) and government (400). Those sectors that lost jobs in April included professional and business services (-600), other services (-400), manufacturing (-200) and information (-100).


 NEW HAVEN — Applications for New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation & Trees’ non-tested, temporary seasonal positions are now being accepted. Available positions for summer employment range from lifeguard/water safety instructor to program specialist to program aide. Duties, hourly pay and job requirements for each position vary. A program aide, for example, might be assigned to be an arts-and-crafts instructor, assistant camp counselor, lunch aide and/or locker room attendant. That position, which pays between $9 and $9.75 per hour, is open to high school students 16 years of age or older, as well as high school graduates. Some positions require a current driver’s license. For more information about summer job requirements and availability with the Parks Department, visit the office at 720 Edgewood Avenue between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.


 A renewed emphasis on Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure could bring thousands of jobs to the state over the next five years, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.


While announcing last month “an ambitious five-year plan” that includes massive improvements to the state’s transportation systems, Malloy said jobs would be among the plan’s many benefits.


“These projects will facilitate commerce, stimulate economic development, improve the daily commutes of countless residents and create thousands of immediate construction jobs,” Malloy said in a release.


Malloy has proposed a state transportation budget allotment of approximately $1.8 billion to fund the transportation improvement effort, delineated in the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Capital Infrastructure Program for 2014-18, its most recent capital plan update. The sweeping plan lists improvements to the state’s highways and bridges; bus and railway fleet enhancements and facility maintenance and upgrades; and maritime port improvements.


Malloy made his announcement at the site of one of the planned projects, widening a section of I-84 in Waterbury. Among those in attendance were a number of lawmakers and business leaders, including John R. Rathgeber, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. CBIA has announced its own initiative to bolster Connecticut’s standing throughout the nation as a major business attraction by the year 2017 (see story this issue). Improving the transportation system is a major component of that effort.


“A modern and efficient transportation infrastructure has long been cited as one of the key components of a competitive business climate,” said Rathgeber in the release. “As Connecticut strives to be one of the best states to do business, these investments are critical to accessing regional, national and global markets.”


Others with a vested interest in the transportation project’s job-creation aspect also went on record in support of it.


“As the investments that already have been made by Governor Malloy come online, people are returning to work and this is the time to step up the momentum and take the construction industry’s ability to drive jobs and economic activity to scale,” stated Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. “These projects not only provide local jobs, but once the improvements are in place, all of the benefits go to Connecticut residents. These much-needed transportation improvements provide opportunities, change lives, and build stronger communities.”


The project will result in “a positive flow of goods, services and job creation,” said David Roche, president of the Connecticut State Building Trades. “Our workers look forward to doing their part to upgrading and rebuilding our highways, roads and bridges for a better Connecticut.”


 FAIRFIELD — Several business-minded undergraduates at Fairfield University had the chance to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas and compete for cash to help develop them during the university’s Business Plan Competition. Held in April, the event resulted in a total of $20,000 being distributed the winning teams. Students, who worked with alumni mentors, had the choice of competing in one of two tracks, venture or social. Taking home the top prize of $7,000 in the venture track were seniors Jennifer Le, Gina Biondi and Jessica Mendes, whose “VentureOut” app facilitates networking meet-ups for young professionals. The social-track top prize, which carried a cash award of $5,000, went to Robert Garrone, Ralph Belfiore, Bernardo Navarro, Stephanie Sutherby and Michael Raymond. The team impressed the judges with its BoneSmart device, a wearable, noninvasive medical tool designed to measure blood flow and bone density. “These student teams showed that entrepreneurism and innovation is alive and well at Fairfield,” said Donald E. Gibson, dean of the university’s Dolan School of Business. “Our quest is to develop these ideas into viable businesses.” The students will receive developmental guidance through the Fairfield University Accelerator & Mentoring Enterprise, the school’s business incubator located in downtown Fairfield, Gibson said.

 Of all the states in the nation, Connecticut was among those having the smallest increase in the number of jobs last month, according to Intuit’s April Small Business Indexes. The monthly report ranked Connecticut seventh-worst for job growth, with 0.06-percent change over the previous month. By comparison, the state at the top of the report’s list for job growth, Virginia, increased its number of positions by 0.3 percent between March 24 and April 23. States ranking below Connecticut are Tennessee, Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The Intuit Small Business Indexes is a series of monthly reports that provides insight into trends centering on employment and revenue for small (fewer than 20 employees) U.S.  businesses. Information is garnered from 225,000 Intuit Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll small-business customers. Among other findings for the April report are that small business employment grew by 0.12 percent last month; “professional and technical services” was the only sector to see a revenue increase (0.07 percent) on a per-business basis in March; and the average monthly pay of small business hourly employees in April was $2,741, a $2 increase over March.