TRENTON — New Jersey’s unemployment rate dipped an insignificant one-tenth of a percentage point in November to 9.6 percent, the third straight monthly decline from 9.9 percent during the summer.

Preliminary estimates show the state lost 8,100 jobs last month, partly as a result of the effects of Hurricane Sandy, with declines split almost evenly between the private and public sectors, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state Treasury Department’s chief economist, Charles Steindel, in a statement described the loss as “fairly modest” given how badly the storm affected New Jersey.

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“This is a remarkably good showing under the circumstances created by Sandy. It seems clear that the storm generated some job losses, particularly in leisure and hospitality, but the total loss for the state was fairly modest, and the unemployment rate continues to drift down,” Steindel said.

November’s biggest decline in private sector jobs — 6,900 — was reported in leisure and hospitality. The largest gain — 8,300 jobs — occurred in professional and business services.

A loss of 3,800 local government jobs was responsible for most of the decline in public employment, the Labor Department said.

Revised figures released Thursday showed that job losses in October totaled only 1,000 and not more than 11,000, as was originally estimated.

Steindel said the sharp upward revision in the October number showed again that first estimates of large job losses can be exaggerated.

Despite the third-straight monthly drop, New Jersey’s jobless rate remains nearly 2 percentage points above the national rate, which was at 7.7 percent in November.

The state Labor Department said the long-term employment trend remains positive, with New Jersey’s private-sector employers having added 20,200 jobs over the past year. Since February 2010, the low point of private sector employment during the recession, private sector employment has increased by 74,800 jobs.

The latest report also showed an increase in hours worked and slight drop in earnings.

Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for production workers increased by 1.1 hours to 42.8 hours, while average hourly earnings declined 25 cents to $18.75.


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