By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Figures from the US Department of Labor peg New Jersey’s unemployment rate at 9.9 percent for the month of August, a slight uptick from the previous month.

But officials in the Garden State are beginning to wonder about those numbers from Washington.

State labor commissioner Harold Wirths isn’t ready to go as far as his counterparts some other states who have criticized how the Bureau of Labor Statistics is calculating that rate.

But he is concerned, he says, given that New Jersey has added thousands of private-sector jobs only to see unemployment numbers continue to go up.

“I’ve watched initial claims very, very closely,” Wirths told KYW Newsradio today, “and for four weeks in a row they have been right around 9,000.  And to have this kind of unemployment rate, you should be having initial claims of 15, 16 thousand.”

He’s thinking there might be some sort of calculating issue unique to this particular recession.

And, by the way, even if the rate were a couple of points lower, no one would be all that thrilled.  The federal numbers are also subject to regular revision, and Wirths looks for some improvement then.

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