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Number of jobs up in Connecticut as deep freeze ends, though rate unchanged at 7 percent

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WETHERSFIELD, Connecticut — Connecticut added 4,900 jobs in March, helping to restore jobs lost in January because of extreme weather, state labor officials said Thursday.

However, the state has regained less than 55 percent of the jobs lost from March 2008 to February 2010 during the recession, economists said. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier this month that businesses nationally have filled slightly more jobs than had been lost over six years.

The unemployment rate in Connecticut remained unchanged at 7 percent in March, snapping a streak of seven consecutive monthly declines since July, when joblessness was 7.9 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate in March was 6.7 percent.

Connecticut has added 9,400 jobs since March 2013. Labor officials also revised upward the number of jobs gained in February to 1,400, an increase from the 800 initially reported last month.

The state, blaming the fiercely snowy and cold January, had reported that 10,400 jobs were lost that month.

"March showed some solid signs of a return to previous job growth trends," said Andy Condon, the Labor Department's director of research. "Recovery trend employment growth appears to be returning following the volatile winter."

He credited the third consecutive month of an expanding labor force, rising employment in manufacturing, and "positive movements" in private-sector hours and earnings.

The leisure and hospitality industry led employment growth in the state, adding 2,300 jobs. The Department of Labor says job growth was very strong in restaurants and hotels.

Economist Don Klepper-Smith, who advised former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said employment in Connecticut "did, in fact, rebound nicely."

The job numbers in March were in line with expectations, he said in a note to clients.

"However, it's premature to get overly excited about the March gain when fundamentally, in the aggregate, we're still growing at a snail's pace after almost five years of economic recovery," Klepper-Smith said.

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