In what several experts said showed a loss of momentum in the state’s economy, New Jersey lost 5,600 jobs in October, as its unemployment rate dipped to 5.2 percent, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
New Jersey private employers shed 4,600 jobs and 1,000 public jobs were lost.
“What I really see looking at the broader trends is there’s not a lot of vigor in the state economy,” said Charles Steindel, who was state economist under Governor Christie and is now a resident scholar at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “I would view this as a pretty lackluster report.”
Sectors that experienced contraction were trade, transportation and utilities (5,700), manufacturing (1,900), leisure and hospitality (1,200), financial activities (700), information (500) and construction (200). The public sector recorded a loss of 1,000 jobs.
Industries that had employment gains in October included professional and business services (4,400), other services (1,000) and education and health services (plus 200).
Based on more complete reporting from employers, September preliminary estimates were revised up by 2,200 jobs, including 1,800 in the private sector to show an over-the-month private-sector employment gain of 5,100 jobs instead of the 3,300 initially reported.
“The results of this preliminary BLS report may be mixed, but the overall labor market picture remains unchanged with continued growth in payroll employment in 2016,” James Wooster, chief economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, said in a statement.
“The New Jersey economic recovery is expected to continue into the near future fueled by further gains in both the labor market and the housing market,” he said. “Private-sector payroll employment has fully recovered from the last recession, with 28,100 more people employed than during the pre-recession peak.”
Steindel and Joel Naroff, president and chief economist of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. of Holland, Pa., said the numbers, particularly the trend now for the past 12 months, paint the state’s employment picture as rather stagnant.
“It’s not as if the state’s economy is weak,” Naroff said. “It’s just that it’s not strong. Every once in awhile you get teased into thinking that it’s starting to pick up steam, and then the acceleration fizzles out. And then it picks up steam again. It’s what the state is … When you average it out it’s mediocre.”