New Jersey's unemployment rate continues to show improvement. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey's jobless rate fell to 9.3 percent for the month of February, down by 0.2 percentage points from January's rate.

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State employers added 12,900 jobs in February, bringing the total number of jobs added for the year to 44,600.

"Everything seems to be going in the right direction. We're encouraged that this trend looks like it's going to continue. We've seen unemployment drop several months in a row now," said New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Hal Wirths.

Private sector job gains were posted in five of New Jersey's major industry sectors. Education and health services, information and leisure and hospitality saw the biggest gains.

Wirths said seeing job growth in leisure and hospitality is especially good news because of Hurricane Sandy.

Despite the improvement, New Jersey continues to lag behind the federal unemployment rate, which stands at 7.7 percent. Wirths said one explanation is New Jersey's high labor participation rate.

"We have 66.2 percent labor participation rate, compared to 63 percent in the nation. A lot of people are under the agreement that if we had the same participation rate as the nation, we could be around 7 percent unemployment or similar to the national average."

New Jersey Business & Industry Association President Philip Kirschner said February's numbers are encouraging. "Clearly, private-sector employers as a whole are showing greater confidence in New Jersey's business climate. They are willing to invest in new personnel because they expect economic activity in their businesses to increase in the coming months."