New Jersey's unemployment rate ticked down to 9.6 percent in November, representing the third consecutive monthly decline. The rate continued its trend of staying well above the national figure, but it was still welcomed news considering the devastation left behind by Superstorm Sandy.

Unemployment claims
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"This is a remarkably good showing under the circumstances created by Sandy," said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. "It seems clear that the storm generated some job losses, but the total loss for the state was fairly modest."

According to preliminary estimates, New Jersey lost 8,100 jobs last month. Lower employment levels were recorded in both the private (-3,700) and public (-4,400) sectors. Close to 7,000 of the jobs lost occurred in leisure and hospitality. Private sector job gains were posted in four of ten industries.

The brightest area of November's report, according to New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold Wirths, was the revision of previously-released October numbers. Preliminary estimates indicated a loss of 11,700 jobs, but the revision shaved more than 10,000 from that number.

"The other good news - while the national labor participation rate ticked down, ours ticked back up to 66 percent. We continue to have a very, very strong labor market," Wirths added.

Wirths admitted he was surprised by the pleasant report. Last month, in an interview with Townsquare Media, he warned of a dismal jobs report to be released in December.

"November was our biggest month of initial (unemployment) claims, ever, in the history of New Jersey," he explained. "We had over 138,000 claims filed, mostly due to Hurricane Sandy, so we're definitely encouraged by these numbers."

Fearing the employment numbers may still be playing "catch-up," Wirths indicated he's a bit pessimistic when thinking ahead to December's numbers. They will be released around this time next month.

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