New Jersey's jobless rate has inched downward in July.

The Labor Department reports the jobless rate at 8.6 percent, one-tenth lower than it was in June and the same as it was in May.

The jobless rate is a full percentage point lower than it was a year ago, but it's still more than a point above the national average of 7.4 percent for July.

Preliminary data shows New Jersey lost 11,800 jobs in July, with leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and construction hardest hit.

Administration economist Charles Steindel says the loss occurred following gains of nearly 20,000 private-sector jobs from April to June.

The Labor Department also revised employment gains upward for June to show the state added 5,700 jobs for the month.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)