Connecticut employers added 6,400 jobs in May, helping reduce the unemployment rate to 6 percent, the lowest in nearly seven years, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The number of jobs in Connecticut has increased by 26,100 since May 2014, to nearly 1.7 million. The unemployment rate in April was 6.2 percent.
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"Connecticut year-to-date job gains are showing their strongest performance since the employment recovery began in 2010," said Andy Condon, research director at the Labor Department. "The state's jobless rate has fallen quickly in the last two months, even with strong labor force growth, and it appears to be converging closer to the U.S. jobless rate."
The state's unemployment rate is down by six-tenths of a percentage point in the past year. It's the lowest since August 2008, when it was 5.9 percent. The national unemployment rate in May was 5.5 percent.
Unemployment in Connecticut peaked at 9.2 percent from October 2010 to February 2011.
An increase of 3,200 jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities sector led all major industries in job growth last month. Employment in retail trade rose by 1,900, the Labor Department said. It credited the opening last month of the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods Resort Casino for helping boost retail jobs.
The retail center announced at its opening that it expected that more than 900 retail management and sales positons would be created.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the improving labor market is "yet another validation of our progress."
Still, Connecticut's economy lags the U.S. economy in recovering jobs lost in the recession. It has regained 97,800 jobs, or 82.2 percent of jobs lost during the March 2008 -to-February 2010 employment downturn. The U.S. has regained more than 100 percent of lost jobs.
Economist Peter Gioia at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association said manufacturing and financial services and insurance, which are important segments of the state's economy, accounted for just 700 of the 26,100 jobs created in the past year.
"So these are critical areas where we still need some improvement," he said.