Connecticut added a net 5,400 jobs in March, marking the third straight month of jobs gains, according to the latest jobs report from the state Department of Labor.

“This is the third month we’ve seen job growth; employers are actively hiring and bringing back their workforces,” Patrick Flaherty, acting director of research, said in a news release.

The state has now recovered 60.3% of the 292,400 nonfarm jobs, and nearly 84% of retail jobs, lost last March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic-induced shutdowns. With schools reopening, the education and health services “supersector” led March 2021 job gains after months of declines, growing by 5,400 jobs last month.

The leisure and hospitality supersector had the second-largest gains, at 1,600 jobs. This includes the accommodation and food services sector, which Flaherty said picked up 1,000 jobs in March.

Construction and mining saw the highest percentage of change, with a 2% increase in jobs.

“Connecticut’s economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” state Labor Department Commissioner Kurt Westby said. “We’re adding payroll jobs, the weekly unemployment filing numbers are down, and the unemployment rate is down — all positive signs. We have a long road ahead of us, but the vaccine is bringing back opportunities for the workforce, recreation, and retail.”

The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.5% to 8.3%, compared to 3.8% last March, though it was still higher than the nationwide unemployment rate, which last month was 6%.

Five of the state’s six labor market areas gained jobs in March, while the Hartford area lost 200 jobs. The Norwich-New London-Westerly area gained 900 jobs; the 0.8% increase in jobs was the second-highest percentage increase in the state, after the New Haven area.

The state Department of Labor reported that private-sector jobs increased 0.4% in March but are still down 6.2% from March of last year, while government jobs grew by 0.2% but are down 5.6% from last year. Public-sector jobs had decreased each month from November to February.

Seven of the “supersectors” in the state saw job gains, while three experienced losses. Professional and business services lost 2,600 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities lost 2,100 jobs; and information lost 100 jobs.

Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, called the addition of 5,400 jobs “very good news.”

“We’re encouraged to see three consecutive months of gains, although the significant loss of jobs last month in the trade, transportation, and utilities and professional and business services sectors is concerning,” he said in a news release Thursday. “There are 90,000 fewer people employed in the private sector today than there were a year ago, and that must be a significant factor as the legislature moves through the budget writing process.”

He said employers are looking for predictability and stability from lawmakers, especially around tax policy, and that the state’s pandemic recovery “should be about driving investment in our economy and doing everything possible to encourage job growth.”

[email protected]