The state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in August, falling from 5.4 to 5.3 percent as Connecticut added 3,200 non-farm jobs last month, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

August marks the fourth consecutive month Connecticut has gained jobs, and the state now has added 33,200 jobs over the year. The state has recovered just over 88 percent of the 119,000 jobs it lost between March 2008 and February 2010.

Average hourly earnings stood at $29.24 in August, up $1.26, or 4.5 percent, from one year ago.

The 5.3 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2008.

“Connecticut’s estimated nonfarm employment growth pace and unemployment rates have come closer in line with national averages this summer,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research.  “In August, earlier school openings and the later Labor Day holiday seemed to influence industry employment, earnings, and hours worked.”

“We’ve undoubtedly seen a strong summer and a strong year – this is the best August we’ve seen in a decade,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “There is no doubt the needle is moving in the right direction.  Unemployment is hovering around the national average, with thousands of jobs being created each month.  It’s good news and it demonstrates that our efforts over the past several years are truly paying dividends.”

Five of the state’s industry super-sectors gained jobs in August, topped by education and health services, which added 2,500 positions. Gains also were recorded in: government; trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; and other services.

Four industry super-sectors lost jobs in August, led by leisure and hospitality, which lost 1,000 positions. Other super-sectors that experienced losses were: financial activities; construction and mining; professional and business services; and information.

Employment in the information super-sector was unchanged last month.

“The August jobs report shows continued improvement and moderate growth,” said Peter Gioia, vice president and chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

But Gioia noted that the job losses in financial activities and construction are significant, given that these super-sectors tend to involve higher wage jobs. “We’re not there yet,” said Gioia of the economic recovery.

Two of the four major labor market areas gained jobs in August, with New Haven adding 1,600 and the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk market adding 100. The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford and Norwich-New London-Westerly markets lost 3,500 and 300 jobs, respectively, during August.

Connecticut and U.S. unemployment rates over time
Connecticut and U.S. unemployment rates over time Connecticut Department of Labor
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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

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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