The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in November as a surging retail sector helped Connecticut gain about 4,000 jobs, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The jobless rate, which stood at 7.9 percent in October, also was down compared with the 8.3 percent unemployment rate in November 2012.

But while education, health services and financial activities also saw growth from October to November, other key sectors of the economy declined.

“November’s strong job growth offset some declines in the third quarter returning us to the positive, though modest growth path we have seen throughout 2013,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said. “A third straight month of unemployment rate declines is certainly good news, though these declines are still occurring on a shrinking labor force.”

The department now estimates Connecticut has recovered 63,500 positions, or 52.4 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, which stretched from March 2008 through February 2010.

Connecticut’s recovery, which is now 45 months old, has averaged 1,411 jobs per month since it began.

“While a decrease in the unemployment rate and the addition of more than 4,000 private sector jobs in a month is clearly a step in the right direction, we still have much work to do,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“We are making steady progress at growing our economy in a way that will create good paying jobs with good benefits for middle-class families,” the governor added. “But if you haven’t been able to get one of these jobs, then you’re not feeling the impact of these changes. I want to make it clear that we can’t and won’t stop making progress until everyone that wants a job in our state has one.”

November’s performance “was not broad-based across industries,” the labor department’s latest report reads, adding that while four industry sectors posted job gains, others saw declines.

Trade, transportation and utilities were up, with 2,600 positions added in retail trade alone.

Education and health services also added jobs in November, while financial activities, construction and mining also posted gains.

The biggest job losses in November were seen in the leisure and hospitality areas, as well as in manufacturing. Professional and business services, government employment and other services also declined.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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