From the Asbury Park Press:
New Jersey added 9,600 jobs during the first half of the year, evidence that the state’s job market is growing slower than both the nation and previous economic expansions, experts said Wednesday.
A state Department of Labor and Workforce Development report showed the job market is uneven: Professional services firms are hiring fast while residential real estate companies are cutting back.
“If you look at some of these higher-wage, value-added jobs . . . we’re actually doing very well,” said David J. Socolow, Labor Department commissioner. “But if you look at the overall job market, it is growing slower than 2006, and that’s lower than we would prefer.”
The assessment came after the state said it added 1,900 jobs in June and its unemployment rate remained stable at 4.3 percent.
Following the pattern, the state in June lagged the rest of the nation. The United States added 132,000 jobs last month. Since New Jersey represents 3 percent of the nation’s work force, the state should have added twice as many jobs as it did.
Meanwhile, the state is on pace to add 19,200 jobs this year, less than the 33,900 jobs added in 2006 and the 70,000 jobs that historically have been added during an average year in an economic expansion, Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes said.
“We’re stuck in a very, very slow growth trajectory,” said Hughes, who also is dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Why? Employers faced with the high cost of doing business in New Jersey may be expanding in other states or even other countries. And with the unemployment rate still considered historically low, some employers may be having trouble finding enough skilled labor to fill jobs, Hughes said.
Adding to the critique of the economy is the fact that 1,200 jobs — 63 percent of June’s total job growth — were in the public sector, the state said.
Sectors with ties to the residential real estate market took a hit, too. Financial activities lost 700 jobs, and construction and retail trade lost 600 jobs apiece, according to the state.