Four years have passed since the recession technically ended, each year reminding us how challenging this economic recovery is compared to previous cycles.

Connecticut has recovered 49% of the 121,200 jobs lost when the economy submerged in 2008-2010, with 11,500 of those added in 2013.

While this past year had its moments, it didn't finish with a bang, with the state Department of Labor reporting today that we shed 3,900 positions in December after gaining 3,800 the previous month.

That's better than 2012, with its gain of 8,600 jobs and 2010, with 9,900, but well back of 2011 and the post-recession mark of 14,300 new positions.

Good months followed by bad

"It continues this trend of good months followed by bad months followed by good months, as evidenced by the fact that Connecticut has been slow to recover jobs lost in the recession," CBIA's Joe Brennan said.

Interestingly, the state's unemployment rate also fell in December, dropping two-tenths of a point to 7.4%,

While December was the fourth consecutive monthly decline in the unemployment rate and the lowest mark since February 2009, it's still well above the national rate of 6.7%.

"It's unclear at this time how much of that is attributed to the fact that more people are getting out of the workforce," Brennan said.

Industry sectors

Just two industry sectors added jobs in December, with other services gaining 900 positions and financial activities adding 300. Leisure and hospitality was unchanged for the month.

Professional and business services led all declining sectors, shedding 2,600 jobs, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (-1,300); construction and mining (-300); manufacturing (-300); education and health services (-300); information (-200); and government (-200).

Education and health services led all sectors for the year, adding 7,900 jobs. Construction and mining gained 5,800 positions in 2013 followed by transportation, trade, and utilities (4,200); professional and business services (1,400); and leisure and hospitality (800).

Manufacturing suffered the greatest losses in 2013, dropping 4,000 jobs, followed by other services (-1,400); financial activities (-1,300); government (-1,300); and information (-600). The government sector includes casino employment numbers.

Labor markets

Four of the state's six labor markets posted job losses in December, led by New Haven, which dropped 2,100 positions. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk declined by 1,700 jobs, Hartford lost 700, and Norwich-New London lost 300.

Waterbury added a modest 200 positions and Danbury remaining unchanged for the month.

Hartford added 7,200 jobs in 2013, leading all markets. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk gained 6,200 positions, followed by New Haven (1,700) and Danbury (900).

Norwich-New London lost 900 jobs in 2013 and Waterbury lost 300 jobs.