New data shows New Jersey added 200 jobs in August and the unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent from 4.2 percent in July.
The Labor and Workforce Development Department called the additions "modest."
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The state rate has inched above the federal figure for the first time since December, when both stood at 4.7 percent.
Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary reports announced Thursday show the state shed 700 private sector jobs, but added 900 public positions.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie had touted the declining rate and argued that shows his administration's policies have worked.
Christie is term-limited and leaves office next year. He took over the state in midst of the recession in 2010 when the unemployment rate was 9.8 percent.
The federal unemployment rate in August was 4.4 percent.