Even though unemployment in the region fell in March, southern New Jersey's Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties are struggling, the U.S. Labor Department reported Tuesday.

Unemployment in the region fell in March, with the rate dropping to 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent in February and 8.1 percent a year ago. The number of jobs in the region increased to 2.7 million, up 4,000 from a year ago.

Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties together reported an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in March - the highest in the region - down from 8 percent in February and 9 percent a year ago.

Even though the unemployment rate fell in the three counties, the number of jobs also fell - a disparity that often indicates that people, discouraged by their inability to find a job, stopped looking and left the labor force.

In March 2013, the three counties had 506,700 payroll jobs. This March, there were 4,000 less, or 502,700. The rest of the region added 8,000 jobs over the year.

Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties together had an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, matching the statewide rate.

Local results were down from 6.7 percent in February and 8 percent in 2013.

The rest of the region, which includes Delaware, Salem County in New Jersey and parts of Maryland, also had a decline to 6.3 percent, from 7.3 percent a year ago. Job growth in this area was the strongest, with 6,100 jobs added over the year.

The statistics are not adjusted to take into account seasonal variations.

In March, the similar nation's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, down from 7.6 percent a year earlier.

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@JaneVonBergen