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Observer: 'Quite a swing' in jobs data as Labor touts February gains

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New Jersey's unemployment rate dropped to 9.3 percent as the state's employers added 12,900 jobs in February, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Joseph Seneca

Private-sector employment increased by 120,600 jobs since February 2010, which had been lowest point of the recession. In New Jersey, private-sector employment increased by 44,600 jobs from February 2012.

While the increase looks good, January's estimates were revised lower by 4,800 jobs, from an increase of 2,600 to a loss of 2,200.

"Certainly, February looks like a strong month — particularly the 7,100 private jobs added," said Joseph Seneca, professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. "That's a very robust number. The downside is that January's initial numbers were significantly revised downward to show a loss instead of a gain. That's quite a swing."

The report, based on a monthly employer survey by the BLS, shows private nonfarm jobs grew by 7,100 and public nonfarm jobs grew by 5,800 in New Jersey. Private-sector job gains were seen in education and health services, information, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.

The public sector saw an increase of 5,800 federal, state and local jobs. That's a big number, Seneca said: "Let's see if it stands up to revision.

All in all, Seneca found the report to be encouraging, especially the addition of 3,600 information jobs.

"The growth in information services is particularly welcome," Seneca said. "That sector has been lagging during the entire recovery in New Jersey."

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