Another uptick in N.J. unemployment rate

The state’s unemployment rate ticked up .2 percentage points in July, to 9.8 percent, just as the governor is preparing to tout a New Jersey economic miracle at the Republican convention.

According to the Department of Labor, the state has added 40,200 nonfarm jobs over the last year, but it lost 12,000 jobs in July, with five sectors leading the way:

  • professional and business services lost 3,900 jobs, “due to cutbacks in the administrative support/waste management and remediation segment (-4,600).”
  • manufacturing lost 3,000 jobs
  • construction lost 2,700
  • financial activities lost 400 jobs
  • and information lost 300 jobs.

“The national economy has been sluggish and, realistically, we can’t be exempt.  Given the national softness and the strength of our job gains in May and June some fallback was likely,” Charles Steindel, chief economist for the state Department of Treasury, said in a press release. “Still, New Jersey’s labor force participation rate and the percentage of our population who are employed remain above the national averages. Considering we have seen job growth in 9 out of the past 11 months, we anticipate that job growth should resume and start to put some downward pressure on unemployment.”

But New Jersey’s rate grew faster than the national rate, which is now 8.3 percent.

Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective said in an interview earlier this week for a different story, before the report was released, that much of the May and June increases touted by the administration were from seasonal employment and masked the problems the state continues to face.

“With the blow up (of the telecommunications and pharmaceuticals industries) we’ve lost a lot,” he said. “In May, with the biggest one-month of job additions, it was driven by seasonal boardwalk jobs and the Revel casino jobs. We still lost 4,800, approximately, in other jobs, and in terms of gross income we may have held even or lost a bit.

“That is a pretty good indicator of our problems.”

The full press release follow:

TRENTON, August 16, 2012 – While the long-term employment trend continues to be positive, preliminary numbers show that employment in New Jersey shifted lower in July and the unemployment rate edged upward. However, overall private sector employers in the Garden State have added 79,000 jobs since February 2010, which was the low point of private sector employment during the recession.

Over the year, July 2011 – July 2012, total nonfarm employment in New Jersey increased by 40,200 jobs.

“The national economy has been sluggish and, realistically, we can’t be exempt.  Given the national softness and the strength of our job gains in May and June some fallback was likely,” said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. “Still, New Jersey’s labor force participation rate and the percentage of our population who are employed remain above the national averages. Considering we have seen job growth in 9 out of the past 11 months, we anticipate that job growth should resume and start to put some downward pressure on unemployment.”

The state’s unemployment rate moved up in July, by 0.2 percentage point, to 9.8 percent, remaining above the national rate, which also edged up, by 0.1, to 8.3 percent in July. Preliminary estimates indicate total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey decreased in July, down by 12,000 jobs, to a seasonally adjusted 3,899,600, as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly employer survey. Job loss was registered in both the private (-7,100) and public (-4,900) sectors of the state’s economy.

The job gain from April to June was still the largest two-month gain witnessed in 12 years. However, based on more complete reporting from employers, previously released June estimates were revised lower, down by 2,600 jobs, to show an over-the-month (May – June) total nonfarm employment gain of 7,300 jobs. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month gain of 9,900 jobs

In July, job loss was recorded in five of ten private industry sectors; four recorded gains while one was unchanged. The industry sector with the largest drop was professional and business services, which fell by 3,900 jobs, due to cutbacks in the administrative support/waste management and remediation segment (-4,600). Other industries that registered larger losses included manufacturing (-3,000) and construction (-2,700). The decline in manufacturing was due to contraction in the nondurable goods component (-3,500) while the loss in construction is reflective of a longer-term trend that has seen employment in this sector fall by 8,200 over the past year. Smaller losses occurred in financial activities (-400) and information (-300).

The largest over-the-month gain occurred in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,600), mainly due to advances in the transportation and warehousing (+1,900) and wholesale trade (+800) subsectors. Smaller gains occurred in other services (+600), education and health services (+500), and leisure and hospitality (+500).

In July, public sector employment was down by 4,900 due to the trimming of payrolls at all three levels of government: federal (-300), state (-2,400) and local (-2,200).

Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for production workers decreased 0.5 hours to 41.2 hours, average hourly earnings were higher by $0.39 to $19.57 and weekly earnings rose by $6.47 to $806.28. Compared to July of last year, the unadjusted workweek increased by 0.8 hours, average hourly earnings increased by $0.67, and weekly earnings were higher by $42.72.

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