Internship searches are tailing off on job-search site Indeed, a trend that appears to reflect an improving economy, according to new data from the Stamford-based company.

During the first quarter of 2018, internship searches accounted for an average of about 7,700 of every 1 million searches done each month, compared with an average of around 8,200 in the first quarter of 2017. The decline reflects the continued strengthening of Americans’ job prospects, as full-time openings increase, according to Indeed officials.

“Less people are now searching for (post-graduate) internships because the labor market has tightened so much and the economy is producing jobs at a steady clip,” Indeed economist Daniel Culbertson said in a recent interview. “There are more full-time jobs to be had, so for those with a choice between full-time positions and internships, less of them are looking for internships.”

Both the state and national unemployment rates have fallen in the past year.

Connecticut posted a 4.9 percent jobless rate in February, down from 4.6 percent a year ago. The state’s March numbers are set to be released Thursday.

After struggling in 2017 with a string of monthly job losses, Connecticut has added positions for the past four months.

It picked up 2,600 jobs in February. An originally released job gain for January was revised upward, by 400, to 3,800 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, the state has now recovered 82 percent of the jobs it lost in its 2008-2010 recession. The private sector has regained 103 percent of its positions shed during the downturn.

“We’ve done quite well in the first two months of the year with the February numbers and the revising up of the January figures,” Pete Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said in a recent interview. “Hopefully this is the start of a trend.”

The U.S. unemployment level ran at 4.1 percent last month, compared with 4.5 percent in March 2017.

Steady search rates at universities

Internships remain a critical career-development pathway for undergraduate students.

“The goal with an internship is to turn that intern into a full-time employee,” Culbertson said. “This is another avenue for employers to find talent through Indeed.”

In the University of Connecticut’s Husky Career Link portal, about 2,000 internships and co-op opportunities have been posted since last July, generating more than 9,000 views. Those numbers are consistent with previous years’ totals, UConn officials said.

“I see value in any engagement with any workforce experience outside the classroom,” said Ana Clara Blesso, assistant director for experiential learning at the UConn Center for Career Development. “The students that we see thrive are the ones who have had some of those experiences. Our students are completing a good number of internships, in addition to other experiential learning opportunities.”

At Fairfield University, internship activity on the Stags4Hire job and internship platform has risen in recent years. In the 2016-17 school year, about 520 full-time and 1,250 part-time internships were posted.

“Most students are looking to do internships over the summer, and they’d rather get paid and find something that can help them in their career journey,” said Kim Nickolenko, Fairfield University’s director of experiential learning and internships. “Most employers want you to have at least one internship in their field.”

In the past three years, internship searches on Indeed have peaked in the winter and early-spring months. During that period, March 2017 represented the peak month, with 8,990 internship searches for every 1 million searches.

Conversely, internship looking plunges in the summer months when most students have either lined up fall internships or not yet started planning for programs for the following spring and summer. In July 2017, for example, internship searches accounted for 4,289 of every 1 million searches.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott