- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s jobless rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2007 and is now more than half a percentage point below the national average.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie credited the good news to his policies, although the February unemployment report, the most recent, was somewhat mixed.

More than 4.3 million New Jersey residents reported they have a job, an all-time high. But nonfarm employment was down by 8,600 jobs in February, all in the private sector. The biggest nonfarm job losses were in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors.

Preliminary data released Thursday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a continued decline in unemployment in New Jersey, from 4.5 percent in January to 4.3 percent in February. The national average is 4.9 percent.

Christie said his policies of cutting taxes as well as reducing regulation on businesses helped to reduce the unemployment rate. He also noted that the jobless rate was 9.8 percent when he took office in January 2010, which was during the nationwide recession.

“The fact is that this administration has over and over again said that taxes and regulation are the biggest impediment to New Jersey’s growth,” he said. “So we’ve cut corporate taxes by $2.3 billion on businesses both large and small in New Jersey and those cuts have now been fully phased in.”

Christie spoke at AeroFarms, an indoor farming facility in Newark that grows produce on shelves at a faster rate than conventional farming. He called for state lawmakers to do more to advance his business agenda.

“(What) the Legislature needs to do now is open their ears and understand that it’s these policies that have created this growth,” Christie said.

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