- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly for the second month in a row, but it’s not because more jobs have been created.

December’s rate was 7.3 percent, down a half-point from November and the lowest unemployment rate for New Jersey in five years.

But the state government was not celebrating the news.

Data collected in a federal survey released by the state on Thursday shows than some 26,000 people left the labor force last month.

With fewer people seeking jobs, the unemployment rate fell even as the number of residents with jobs dropped by 36,000.

Charles Steindel, the chief economist for the state Treasury Department, says other indicators show the state’s economy improving.

The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December.

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