From the Record:
New Jersey added 4,700 jobs in September, putting the state’s job market back on the path of slower growth seen at the start of the year, after the dramatic job losses of the summer.
The state added 3,400 private-sector jobs and 1,300 government jobs, boosting the year-to-date total to 39,600, according to the monthly employment report by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
If the state keeps up that pace, an average of about 4,400 a month, it would add about 50,000 jobs this year. That pace would be higher than the average annual increase of about 35,500 a year from 2011 to 2014.
The jobless rate fell to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent in August, above the national rate of 5.1 percent.
Economists said that after New Jersey’s job losses in June and July, when the state lost a combined total of 23,000 jobs, the labor market appears to have returned to the moderate – albeit volatile — gains shown in the early part of the year. The state added an average of 6,000 jobs a month from January to May.
“I wouldn’t call it robust, I wouldn’t call it strong,” said Charles Steindel, the state’s former chief economist under Governor Christie. “But certainly it is recovering.”
The report also revised the August employment increase of 13,600 jobs upward, adding 1,900 jobs for a gain of 15,500 jobs in the month. The state has added 20,200 jobs in the last two months.
“This is very much a slow-growth jobs recovery,” said Patrick O’Keefe, an economist with CohnReznick in New York and Roseland. “It’s sort of like climbing up a greased pole — you make some progress and then you slip back. This month we made some progress; it’s a better report than we saw in midsummer.”
O’Keefe said state employment has now grown by 1 percent this year, compared with the national increase of 2 percent over the same period.
Both economists said the unemployment rate fell because of people leaving the workforce, likely because they are discouraged and don’t believe they can find a job, rather than because they had become employed.