NJ jobless rate dips, but remains higher than nation

New Jersey’s unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in almost seven years.

The 6.1 percent jobless rate for June is the lowest it’s been since October 2008, but still stubbornly higher than the national rate, said state Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths.

“Obviously, we’re not happy with 6.1 percent unemployment. We’re thrilled with the drop. I think that our labor force participation rate remaining so much stronger than the nation is a good reason why our unemployment rate is higher than the nation,” he said. “But we’re getting there.”

The drop in the unemployment rate is significant, but not really cause for celebration, said Rutgers economist James Hughes.

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“We’re still lagging the nation in terms of unemployment. It is an improvement, and we have to be happy with any improvement,” he said. “However, it has been a very slow recovery in the Garden State.”

The national jobless rate stood at 5.3 percent in June. Delaware had 4.6 percent unemployment, while Pennsylvania’s rate is 5.4 percent.

Superstorm Sandy and the closing of some Atlantic City casinos hurt New Jersey’s economic growth, Hughes said.

He said it will be sometime next year before employment in New Jersey returns to where it was before the Great Recession.

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