Connecticut added 4,100 jobs in May to erase many of the losses experienced in March and April and put the state ahead 11,500 jobs year over year, according to a report released Thursday by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.5 percent, even as the national average dipped to 3.8 percent as announced earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“There was surprising strength in retail trade and a good showing for financial activities, both of which are now ahead of last year’s pace,” Andy Condon, director of the state’s Office of Research, said.

April’s initial job loss report of 1,400 was revised to a steeper loss of 1,900. The state lost 5,400 jobs in March and April, following strong numbers in January and February.

May’s figures come from the business payroll survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state has 1,690,700 jobs and 84,900 unemployed residents.

Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research at DataCore Partners, celebrated the small victory for Connecticut, but added the state has a long way to go catch the nation and surrounding states when it comes to job recovery from the recession.

“The May jobs data was a welcomed reprieve from the job weakness seen in recent months,” he wrote in a newsletter to clients. I would characterize the May numbers as being a ‘positive step in the right direction’ and pretty encouraging.”

The private sector grew by 4,300 jobs in May and is up 13,800 positions for the year. The government supersector lost 200 jobs in May. The state employs 229,900 government employees, down from 255,100 prior to March 2008. The number includes federal, state and local government positions, including tribal employment.

Five of the supersectors gained positions, while four lost jobs and manufacturing remained unchanged. The trade, transportation and utilities supersector led all industries with 2,600 new jobs. Mining and construction dropped 300 positions, the most of any supersector.

Connecticut has recovered 81.0 percent of the jobs lost in the recession from March 2008, to February 2010. The private sector, however, has recovered 102 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. The state needs to gain 22,600 new jobs to reach full recovery.

Five of the six Labor Market Areas gained jobs with the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk LMA breaking even. Hartford led the way with a gain of 900 positions. Danbury added 200 jobs.

“It was a good (job) increase and it was broad-based with five of six labor markets gaining jobs and five of the supersectors gaining positions,” Pete Gioia, an economist with Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said. “Overall, it was a positive report. The one concern I do have is the labor force data, which decreased by 2,500 last month.”

Gioia said the 11,000 jobs gained year over year could become a yearly increase of 30,000 positions by the end of the year if the trend continues.

“But can we do it?” he said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy touted the state’s efforts to bolster the state’s private sector, while shrinking the government.

“Today’s job numbers demonstrate that Connecticut has more private sector jobs than we did before the Great Recession,” Malloy said in a statement. “It also reflects the fact that government is smaller today than when I took office — just as I promised to do eight years ago.”

Malloy said the state workforce, excluding higher education, is 13 percent smaller than it was when he took office.

Average hourly earnings increased 48 cents year over year to $31.51.

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