Claims for unemployment are dropping sharply across the country. They are also going down in New Jersey after a big jump from Sandy.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

First-time claims are an indicator of layoffs. When they rise, it means people are losing their jobs. There was a sharp drop in first-time claims nationally last week. Economic analyst Patrick O'Keefe of Cohn-Resnick in Roseland says the impact of Sandy on New Jersey's unemployment data continues to decline, and that's a positive.

"It's not as good news as we'd like, but it's better than a lot of what we saw over the past several years."

Another positive sign, according to O'Keefe is that new unemployment claims in Jersey are now at pre-recession levels.

He says, although, continuing claims remain elevated in Sandy's aftermath, the total is trending downward consistent with the usual seasonal pattern. O'Keefe also says Insured unemployment rate in mid-February was equivalent to last year's.