N.J. unemployment rate edges down

TRENTON – New Jersey’s unemployment rate edged down in February after the state added nearly 13,000 jobs, according to Department of Labor and Workforce figures.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 9.3 percent after edging down 0.2 percent, according to the latest data. Employers added 12,900 jobs to their payrolls.

In February, the private sector added 7,100 jobs and about 5,800 positions were added in the public sector.

The Christie administration, which has been blasted by Democrats in an election year for New Jersey’s higher than the national average unemployment rate, touted the February gains as “another solid jobs report,” said Charles Steindel, chief economist for the state Department of Treasury, in a statement.

“[It] continues the general, upward trend of growth and progress established under the Christie administration with nearly 13,000 total jobs added, bringing the number of private-sector jobs added under this administration to 120,000,” Steindel said.

“The unemployment rate is also moving in the right direction, as more New Jerseyans continue to re-enter the workforce and find employment.”

The latest figures come after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that New Jersey’s total non-farm employment gains for 2012 were the highest in more than a decade.

Total non-farm employment gains for 2012 were revised upward by 18,400 jobs, from 48,000 to 66,400 jobs, the state Labor Department reported.

The over-the-year gain (December 2011 to December 2012) marked the largest total non-farm employment boost reported for the state since 2000, according to the state. Private-sector growth in 2012 also was the highest since 2000, according to the revised federal data.

The revised BLS data showed New Jersey grew 59,100 private-sector jobs in 2012, up by 13,000 private-sector jobs over the preliminary BLS estimates, the state said. The state has gained 117,600 private-sector jobs since February 2010, the low point for private-sector employment during the recession.

N.J. unemployment rate edges down