New Jersey officials say the unemployment rate dropped .1 percent in December to 9 percent.

It was the fourth time in the last five months the state's unemployment rate has fallen.

The gains came with public sector employment rising by 2,400 jobs in December -- mostly in local government. Private sector jobs, however, were down by 2,000.

Those figures are reversals from the trends throughout 2011. Compared with December 2010, New Jersey's unemployment rate was .1 percent lower. But there are 39,400 more private-sector jobs and 3,000 fewer public sector jobs.

The preliminary numbers are measured by the United States Bureau of Labor and were released by the state Labor Department.

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