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N.J. unemployment rate drops to 7.8 percent in new report

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New Jersey's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in November, according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The drop of 0.6 percentage point from October's mark of 8.4 percent is the largest monthly drop on record, according to the department.

Increases in job creation across both the private and public sectors led to the addition of 16,900 new jobs, the department said.

"As was the case last year, the summer doldrums in jobs seems to have vanished as the temperature has dropped and the state's expansion has picked up its pace," chief economist for the state Department of Treasury Charles Steindel said in the report. "Looking through the month-to-month swings, New Jersey is seeing marked, ongoing job gains. On a year-over-year basis, both construction and manufacturing jobs have moved up, joining the ongoing expansion in the service sector."

In six of the state's labeled nine major industry sectors, gains were posted, according to the department. Education and health services saw the biggest boost, with approximately 7,500 new jobs added. Leisure and hospitality followed with the addition of roughly 4,000 new jobs.

Workweek production and average hourly earnings for workers also saw increases from October.

Gordon MacInnes, president of liberal think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, said that that while a drop in unemployment is nice, it's still not indicative of a healthy state economy. MacInnes added that the drop is largely due to over 30,000 state residents dropping out of the workforce and giving up on the job search.

"It's certainly good news that New Jersey's unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, but there's no reason to jump for joy as our state's economy remains very weak," MacInnes said in a statement. "New Jersey's recovery is tepid and far behind the rest of the nation; we've regained only 59 percent of the jobs we lost in the Great Recession (neighboring New York, by comparison, has regained 150 percent)."

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