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Democrats and Christie battle over unemployment

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 11/30/2011, 2:14 p.m.

Democratic legislators in the Garden State are in a battle with Republican Gov. Chris Christie over who is doing a better and more effective job when it comes to helping the state's unemployed workers. The war of words reached a fever pitch on Monday in Trenton.

Democrats in the state Assembly reintroduced a bill that would allow people to continue receiving unemployment benefits while enrolled in a state-mandated job training program. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year by the Dems and subsequently vetoed by Christie in a cost-cutting move.

The Dem plan is called Back to Work New Jersey and would provide critical job training to the unemployed without affecting their benefits. Christie has argued that, under his leadership, at least 50,000 private sector jobs have been created.

"Politically, they would like to be seen as job creators," Christie said of the Democrats. "But the problem for them is that we are already creating jobs in New Jersey."

Unemployment in New Jersey stands at just above 9 percent, despite Christie's claim that thousands of jobs have been created. Some furloughed workers contend that work is hard to come by, while others claim to know people that were recently hired under the Christie initiative. "Where are those 50,000 jobs he created?" one blogger wrote. "I am always applying, looking and asking and can't seem to find work!"

"The jobs were in the private sector; I know several people who have recently been hired," wrote a blogger at Brookdale Community College.

Legislators don't expect a final decision on the jobs bill from the governor before the end of the year.ear.