Preliminary numbers released today by the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development show that employment in New Jersey shifted lower in July and the unemployment rate edged upward. New Jersey’s jobless rate moved up in July, by 0.2 percentage point, to 9.8%, still above the national rate, which also edged up, by 0.1, to 8.3% in July.

“The national economy has been sluggish and, realistically, we can’t be exempt,” explains Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. “Given the national softness and the strength of our job gains in May and June some fallback was likely.”

Overall, private sector employers in the Garden State have added 79,000 jobs since February 2010, which was the low point of private sector employment during the recession. Over the past 12 months total nonfarm employment in New Jersey has increased by 40,200 jobs.

Job loss in July was registered in both the private (-7,100) and public (-4,900) sectors of the state’s economy.

Steindel says, “Still, New Jersey’s labor force participation rate and the percentage of our population who are employed remain above the national averages. Considering we have seen job growth in 9 out of the past 11 months, we anticipate that job growth should resume and start to put some downward pressure on unemployment.”