Connecticut lost 300 jobs last month. And our unemployment rate has roughly stayed the same for over a year and a half, even while the national average has fallen to meet it.

The state reached 9.1 per cent unemployment back in January of 2010. The national average has fallen to 9.1 percent after a post-2008 crisis high of 10.2 percent in October of 2009.

One bright spot is that the manufacturing sector appears to be hiring, after decades of decline. The industry gained 2,100 jobs in July, the most of any sector. The rise, according to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), “defied seasonal expectations.”

This was more than offset however, by the largest jobs loser, leisure and hospitality. The sector laid of 2,400 people in July.

“Even with the positive revision to June’s jobs estimate, the direction of job growth in Connecticut is uncertain. On average we’ve added only half the number of jobs each month in 2011 than we’ve added in 2010,” said Labor Statistics Supervisor Salvatore DiPillo.

On average, Connecticut workers made 28 dollars and 14 cents an hour, up slightly from last year.

Waterbury had the highest unemployment rate of all labor market areas, at 11.8 percent, while Danbury had the lowest, at 7.3 percent.

The news comes a day after state employee labor unions accepted a concessions deal, and talk around the state Capitol shifts to the scheduled fall special session.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal released the results of a survey of manufacturers in Connecticut.  Of 151 businesses surveyed, 89 percent said they had plans to either hire new workers or keep their employment level steady. But 87 percent said they were having trouble locating qualified people.

“What we have there is a skills mismatch,” said Peter Gioia, a CBIA economist.

Gioia said that the training of the unemployed to fill manufacturing jobs should be a “top priority” of the state, through the funding of Community Colleges.

“Ultimately, efforts like that pay for themselves,” he said.