New employment numbers are out for June and its a mixed bag for New Jersey.

Despite an estimated job gain of 9,900, New Jersey's unemployment rate shot up in June to 9.6 percent, its highest level in more than three years, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

"Combined with gains recorded in May, employment in the Garden state has increased by nearly 25,000 jobs over the past two months. This represents the largest two-month gain in over twelve years" said Hal Wirths, Commissioner of the state Department of Labor.

Over the year, June 2011 - June 2012, total non-farm employment in New Jersey has increased by 65,000 jobs. Private sector employers in the Garden State have added 89,700 jobs since February 2010, which was the low point of private sector employment during the recession.

But, despite the job gains, the state's June unemployment rate moved to 9.6 percent from May's 9.2 percent.

"In recent months, New Jersey employers have been adding jobs at rates not seen in years, and at a faster pace than the nation as a whole. If the job count keeps rising at this pace, unemployment will inevitably come down," said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury.

The rise in the unemployment rate was due, in part, he says to an influx of new entrants and re-entrants to the state's labor market. New Jersey's rate is now 1.4 percentage points above the national rate of 8.2 percent, which was unchanged in June.

New Jersey was not an anomaly; other states in the region reported similar bumps in joblessness. New York state said its unemployment rate rose from 8.6 percent to 8.9 percent in June in spite of adding more than 15,000 jobs as more people entered the job market. Connecticut's rate jumped from 7.8 percent to 8.1 percent.

Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) pointed to the continued rise in New Jersey's unemployment rate as a sign that there is still more work to be done to pull the state firmly out of the lingering recession.

Prieto noted that the announcement that New Jersey's unemployment rate has risen from 9.2 to 9.6 percent, is the highest the state's jobless rate has been in roughly two years.

"Despite a number of private sector job gains, our unemployment rate continues to rise and remain well above the national average. This is especially troubling since the biggest gains came in the area of leisure and hospitality, which typically employ temporary, seasonal workers this time of year."

"And it's all the more disconcerting because the Governor has vetoed dozens of jobs bills we've passed over the last two years while falsely trumpeting a 'Jersey Comeback''' Prieto added.

The governor's office said the big-picture view of the numbers is one of a state on a continued path of job creation and growth. New Jersey has now added as many jobs in the first six months of the year as it did in all of 2011, which was already the single best year of private sector job growth for the state since 2000, the administration said.


(The Associated Press contributed to this report)