New Jersey's unemployment rate has dipped to its lowest level in more than four years.

 

The unemployment rate edged down to 8.5 percent in August, said assistant New Jersey Labor Commissioner Jeff Stoller, even though total employment in the state fell by 1,500 jobs.

"The trends for most of our industries are very positive, and have been for the past year, and are again this month," he said Thursday. "So I think that if you're seeing even that small potential preliminary change, you're going to see, under revision, that is not going to be a net loss."

The jobless rate is a full percentage point lower than a year ago as more New Jersey residents enter the labor force and succeed in finding work, Stoller said.

While New Jersey's rate is the best since 2009, it still lags the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. In Delaware, it's 7.4 percent; while in Pennsylvania, the rate is 7.5 percent.

Stoller said he's hopeful of more job gains in New Jersey in coming months as the national economy improves.

"The labor participation rate among our people is higher than in the rest of the country. We have more people on the job or looking for work than ever before," he said. "The good news is that the fact our unemployment rate is coming down means people are connecting."