New Jersey Jobless Rate Jumps to 9.6% as Work Force Grows

New Jersey’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.6 percent in June, its highest in almost two years, as more people entered the labor force.

The jobless rate, up from 9.2 percent in May, climbed even as the state added 9,900 jobs. Employment rose 24,300 in May and June, the largest two-month gain in more than 12 years, according to a statement from the state’s Labor Department.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who has said New Jersey’s economy is in a “comeback,” declined to comment on the figures today at a Trenton news conference before the department’s news release. Kevin Roberts, a Christie spokesman, said that the higher rate is mainly attributable to more people looking for work.

“New Jerseyans understand the trajectory our state is on and believe in the New Jersey comeback,” Roberts said in an e-mail. “They are confidently re-entering the labor market at a level we haven’t see in well over three years.”

New Jersey’s so-called labor participation rate is 66.1 percent, above the national rate of 63.8 percent, according to Roberts.

Private-industry job gains were recorded in leisure and hospitality, boosted by seasonal hiring. Other industries that added jobs included education and health services, professional and business services and finance. Losses occurred in trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing and construction.

“New Jersey employers have been adding jobs at rates not seen in years, and at a faster pace than the nation as a whole,” Charles Steindel, chief economist for the state’s Treasury Department, said in the jobs release.

The U.S. jobless level was unchanged at 8.2 percent last month. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has been at 9 percent or higher since June 2009, and last reached 9.6 percent in July 2010, labor department data show.

For New York state, June’s jobless rate was 8.9 percent, highest since January 2010, and up from 8.6 percent in May.

New York City’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 10 percent, matching a post-recession peak reached in the six months through February 2010, the state Labor Department said today. A growing labor force over the past 12 months helped push up the rate, the department said.

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