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Connecticut’s unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in February as the state gained about 800 jobs, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The unemployment rate, which dropped two-tenths of 1 percentage point in February, has fallen steadily over the past seven months. It stood at 7.9 percent one year ago.

But while the jobless rate has fallen month after month, overall job growth hasn’t always kept pace. In January and on several other occasions the rate fell even though Connecticut lost jobs, a phenomenon caused by large numbers of unemployed giving up their search for new work.

That wasn’t the case in February, though, when the harsh winter weather of January improved considerably.

“February’s job report seemed to confirm that weather was partly responsible for January’s sharp decline as we saw recovery in several of the industries that had stumbled,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said Thursday. “The continued decline in Connecticut’s unemployment rate, driven by growing household employment, signals that we continue on the path of job recovery.”

Still, the state’s chief business lobby was cautious about the latest labor report, noting that the job growth is modest when compared with the 11,000 jobs Connecticut lost in January.

“It’s a relatively small number,” Joseph F. Brennan, senior vice president of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said of the 800 jobs gained in February. But Brennan added that the 2,700 private-sector jobs gained in that month is more encouraging.

Five of the state’s business super-sectors gained jobs two months ago, and five lost ground.

Professional and business services led the gains, adding 3,000 jobs, though increases also were reported in: construction and mining; leisure and hospitality; information; and other services.

The manufacturing and government super-sectors lost 1,900 jobs each in February, while losses also were posted in: financial activities; education and health services; and trade, transportation and utilities.

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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