New Jersey's unemployment rate dropped slightly again in December, as the slow and steady improvement in the jobs situation continues.

The rate stood at an even nine percent for December, down one-tenth of a percent from November. State Secretary of Labor Hal Wirths conceded the gain was small and the rate remains high, but he touted the accomplishments of the Governor in making Jersey more business-friendly and job-fertile. Wirths noted that since Governor Christie has been in office, the State has gained almost 60-thousand jobs, the largest private sector job gain since the year 2000.

Patrick O'Keefe, Director of Economic Research at J.H. Cohn in Roseland, also noted that initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell by almost one-fifth (-19.6%) in the first week of 2012, partially reversing the prior week's 50.5% seasonal surge.

"We still have a long way to go to get back close to full employment, but it's evident we are going in the right direction," said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury.

While the rate declined for the fourth time in five months in December, the total size of the workforce remained unchanged. The announcement coincided with a Federal report showing weekly unemployment applications fell to 352,000 last week.....the lowest level since April of 2008.