TRENTON - New Jersey officials say the state's unemployment rate fell below the national rate in September, dropping to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent.

The national rate remained at 9.6 percent.

The jobless rate declined despite a drop in the overall number of jobs held in both the public and private sectors. Officials say that was a result of working-age residents leaving the labor force.

Public sector employment fell during September by 10,800 jobs, mostly at the local government level. This includes teachers and municipal employees affected by budget cuts. Private sector employment declined by 9,400 jobs in the same period.

Six of the ten main industry sectors lost jobs in September, according to the jobs report.

AP wire services contributed to this report.