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N.J. Unemployment Rate Reaches Lowest Since December ’08

New Jersey’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 percent in January, its lowest since December 2008, even as the state lost 3,900 jobs, according to the state’s Labor Department.

Brian Murray, a spokesman for the department, attributed the rate drop to the U.S. government revising its estimates, job creation and people leaving the workforce. Revisions show New Jersey’s unemployment rate had been overstated in all preliminary monthly reports issued by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics since June 2012, he said.

The unemployment rate measures jobs held by residents, while the total employment number estimates jobs based in the state. New Jersey added 19,800 nongovernment positions in 2013, after creating 45,400 in 2012, according to data released by the Labor Department yesterday.

Since February 2010, Governor Chris Christie’s first full month in office, the state has added 120,200 private-sector jobs, about half of those lost in the recession that began in December 2007. Neighboring New York has regained more jobs than it shed; its January unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

January’s unemployment level for New Jersey was down from a revised 7.2 percent in December and 8.9 percent a year earlier. The national jobless rate was 6.6 percent in January.

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