New Jersey's unemployment rate inched down to 9.8 percent in September, even as the state shed 1,200 jobs for the month.

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The state Labor Department reported Thursday that the jobless rate shrunk by one-tenth of 1 percent, but remained above 9 percent for the 40th consecutive month.

The unemployment rate, which is preliminary, measures the number of residents who are out of work but able to work and actively looking for employment.

It stands a full two points above the national rate, which came in at 7.8 percent for September, and continues to run at a 35-year high even with the dip.

The state has added 84,900 private-sector jobs since February 2010, the first full month Christie was in office.

However, in another sign of the weakness of the recovery, August's reported gain of 5,300 new jobs was revised downward on Thursday to a monthly gain of just 2,000 jobs.

For September, a gain of 1,000 private-sector jobs was offset by the loss of 2,300 public-sector positions.

The industry hit hardest was construction, which lost 4,200 jobs for the month. The professional, business finance and hospitality sectors all lost jobs last month, while gains were reported in education and health services, other services and manufacturing.

Only three states reported double-digit unemployment rates in August: California, Nevada and Rhode Island. Not all states have reported their September jobs numbers yet.


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