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Connecticut added 2,900 jobs during the month of July when the state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.6%, according to a monthly, seasonally adjusted report from the Department of Labor.

The July report, released Thursday, also softened the impact of a disappointing jobs report from June by revising job losses that month from 4,600 down to 2,500. 

“The June revision and the July increase keep Connecticut on a positive job growth track despite monthly ups and downs,” Patrick Flaherty, the agency’s director of research and information, said in a Labor Department video

The Education and Health Services sector reported the largest gains in July with an additional 3,000 jobs. The Construction and Mining sector followed with 1,400 new jobs. Those gains combined with new jobs in three other sectors were offset by losses in four sectors including 1,400 jobs lost in the Professional and Business Services sector. 

The report finds Connecticut more than 98% recovered from job losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, with private sector jobs falling just 100 beneath February 2020 employment levels. Meanwhile, the number of people experiencing unemployment fell beneath 70,000 for the first time since August 2019, Flaherty said. 

In a press release Thursday, Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, welcomed July’s job gains after June’s losses. However, DiPentima expressed frustration with an ongoing decline in the number of people working or looking for work. 

“Employers are losing patience and the longer this crisis continues, the greater the risk that companies will look elsewhere to meet their workforce needs,” he said. “We have 91,000 job openings. Even if every unemployed person was hired tomorrow, we’d still have 22,000 unfilled positions.”

Connecticut’s competitive advantages for businesses are being eroded by an ongoing labor shortage, DiPentima said. 

“Policymakers must show a sense of urgency and address issues like the cost of living, housing, and the high cost of doing business here,” he said. “Time is running out.”

Although the number of available workers continues to concern recruiters, Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo said the state’s labor force participation rate remains above the national average. 

“Employers have about 90,000 jobs available in the state—it’s a good economic climate for job seekers with employers hiring for a wide variety of jobs and skill levels,” Bartolomeo said in a press release.