TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – The latest jobless numbers in the Garden State present what could best be called a mixed message.

On the one hand, New Jersey added about 7,500 private-sector jobs in February. That segment has grown for three of the last five months.

On the other, the unemployment rate went up — from 9.1 percent in January to 9.2 last month.

So, what gives?

harold j wirths New Jersey Adds Jobs, Yet Unemployment Rate Rises

(NJ labor commissioner Harold Wirths. Photo provided)

“The ‘discouraged’ workers that we survey re-entered the job market — I think they saw the job market improving,” explains New Jersey labor commissioner Harold Wirths (right).  “They actually re-enter (the job market) and it pushes the numbers up.”

Not a surprise, according to most economists. Traditionally, unemployment figures are the last to improve in an overall economic recovery.

Wirths won’t go so far as to suggest the economy is back on solid ground yet, but in his words, “Things are looking up.”

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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