TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's unemployment rate ticked up by .2 percent to 9.8 percent in July.
The state's jobless rate now tops the national rate by 1.5 percent. Nationally, unemployment rose by one-tenth of 1 percent in July, to 8.3 percent.
Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths cautions that the numbers are preliminary.
He says New Jersey has seen private-sector job growth in nine of the past 11 months.
Last month, the state's unemployment rate jumped to 9.6 percent even though the state added 9,900 jobs.
The persistently high unemployment rate has Democrats questioning whether Gov. Chris Christie's so-called "Jersey Comeback" is actually moving forward.
His supporters say the job creation shows it is.
Democratic leaders say he's overstating how well the state is doing.