NJ economic growth slows

From the Courier Post Online:

N.J. growth hit snag, Fed says

New Jersey’s economy was all but stagnant last month following two months of healthy growth, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Wednesday.

The regional bank said the Garden State’s economy expanded by just 0.1 percent in November after growing by 0.3 percent each in September and October and by a total of 2.5 percent since December 2005.

“That’s a slowdown,” said economist Ted Crone, a vice president at the bank.

Crone said, however, it is too soon to say whether November’s tiny growth is a one-month blip or the start of a trend.

“I wouldn’t want to hang my hat on one month” of data, he said. “We want to have three months’ data before we can say whether we’ve ratcheted down to a lower plane.”

Crone said the latest monthly figure, called the current economic index, is preliminary, so the 0.1 percent could be revised in the next month or two based on additional numbers. The index is calculated using data and survey results covering areas including employment level, the unemployment rate and average hours worked in manufacturing.

In November, the number of jobs based in New Jersey rose by just 900, to 4,083,700. At the same time, the state’s unemployment rate edged up from 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent, matching the national rate after months of exceeding the U.S. level substantially. The state’s rate had been as high as 5.2 percent in September after hovering around that level since last April, when the rate rose after an entire quarter of slow job growth, Crone said.

Another factor resulting in the slow growth rate in November was the drop in the average hours put in by manufacturing workers, from 41.5 hours to 41.3 hours per week.

“It’s been fairly weak in the last three months,” Crone said, noting the housing market has been slow as well.

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