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Connecticut employers added roughly 4,400 jobs in September, according to Thursday statistics from the Labor Department which reported the state’s unemployment rate had declined slightly to 4%.

In the report, labor officials said the September employment gains contributed to the state’s ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecticut has now recovered just over 89% of the 289,400 jobs lost during the two month period in March and April of 2020 when much of the state was locked down. 

Labor Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo said the numbers showed the strength of the state’s economy and workforce. 

“In 2022, Connecticut has seen 50,000 workers enter the job market, employers have added thousands of jobs each month, and our unemployment rate is down from 5.6% in September 2021 to 4.0%,” Bartolomeo said. “While we continue to watch national economic indicators, this is good economic news for employers, workers, and job seekers.”

Connecticut experienced growth or held steady in six of its 10 employment sectors. The leisure and hospitality industry grew the most with an additional 2,000 jobs. Three sectors — Financial activities professional and business services and manufacturing — each shrunk by between 600 and 300 jobs. 

Meanwhile, government employers added about 1,500 jobs in September, which labor officials largely attributed to local government jobs related to the reopening of schools. 

According to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut was one of five states to post an unemployment rate of 4% in September. Eight states reported higher unemployment rates. 

Connecticut had a higher unemployment rate than most of its immediate neighbors. Maine reported a rate of 3.3%, Massachusetts 3.4%, New Hampshire 2.2%, New Jersey 3.3%, and Rhode Island 3.1%. New York, meanwhile, had a higher unemployment rate at 4.3%.

Patrick Flaherty, the Labor Department’s director of research, said Connecticut had now experienced nine consecutive months of job growth. 

“Seasonal factors are coming into play with summer workers going back to school, school system payrolls expanding, and the leisure and hospitality industries seeing big gains,” Flaherty said. “CTDOL continues to watch for broad impacts of national inflation and energy prices on the state’s industry sectors.”

Connecticut Business and Industry Association President and CEO Chris DiPentima said the September numbers continued a positive trend. However, DiPentima said many employers were still having difficulty filling their open positions due to labor shortages. 

“The jobs are there—114,000 open positions as of August. What employers need are the workers to fill those jobs and it’s concerning to see another 1,800 people leave the labor force last month,” DiPentima said. “Our labor force has declined by 47,100 people since February 2020, or 43% of the region’s losses—we have just two-thirds of the available labor pool needed to fill those open jobs.”