CEDAR KNOLLS -- New data shows New Jersey lost more than 17,000 jobs last month but the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent.

Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary reports announced on Thursday show the state jobless rate is the lowest since May 2007.

The Treasury department's chief economist, James Wooster, says the monthly report can often show instability but that the state's economy is trending toward growth and recovery.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been touting the data lately, arguing the declining rate shows his administration's policies are successful.

Christie is term-limited and leaves office next year. He took over the state in midst of the recession in 2010 when the state's unemployment rate was nearly 10 percent.

The federal unemployment rate in February was 4.5 percent.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)