HARTFORD, Connecticut — Connecticut employers added 4,100 jobs in July, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.4 percent, from 5.7 percent, its lowest since May 2008, the state Department of Labor said Thursday.
The state has added 30,600 nonfarm jobs over the last year and has recovered 97 percent of the private sector jobs lost during the recession. The jobless rate is now down a full percentage point from July 2014.
The U.S. unemployment rate in July was 5.3 percent.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has weathered criticism from Republicans and some in the business community for Connecticut's slow job growth over the past several years, highlighted the accelerating increase in employment.
"Jobs are dramatically up, the unemployment rate is significantly down and we're on track to reach private sector job levels that the state hasn't seen since before the Great Recession," he said.
Peter Gioia, economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the state's largest business group, said the sharp drop in the unemployment rate and recovery of lost jobs are "a lot of good news" for Connecticut. But he said states such as Massachusetts "seem to be outperforming us."
The Massachusetts's unemployment rate in July was 4.7 percent.
Gioia also said job gains were uneven in Connecticut, with the Hartford area and lower Fairfield counties performing the best in July. But New Haven and the Norwich-New London areas lost jobs.
This story has been corrected to show that the 1 percentage point drop is in comparison with state rate, not U.S. rate.