New Jersey's unemployment rate continued to rise in September, hitting 9.8 percent of the workforce, the highest in 32 years.

At the same time, the number of state residents with jobs fell after two months of gains, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.

The jobless rate was up from 9.6 percent in August and matched the national rate for September, the report showed. The state's unemployment rate was last at 9.8 percent in April 1977.

The state's unemployment rate has increased every month since the national recession began in December 2007. The U.S. rate dipped slightly at the start of the recession but has increased steadily since February 2008.

In September, seven of New Jersey's 10 industry sectors posted job losses - with the largest decline coming in construction (4,000 jobs), the department said. Even the health services/education sector, which typically increases employment month-to-month, lost 1,000 jobs in September.

Financial services gained 1,200 jobs last month, and leisure/hospitality was up 1,000, the state said. One sector, natural resources/mining, was unchanged.

The state's total number of jobless people rose by 8,000 in September to 444,900.

Employment fell by 12,700 to 3,917,700.