From the Record:
New Jersey added 500 jobs in August, a small increase accompanied by a drop in unemployment, state officials said Wednesday.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.6 percent in July, a move that pulled it below the national rate of 4.6 percent, according to monthly job figures released by New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
(note: The sharp drop in unemployment was primarily due to a drop in the labor force, not an increase in jobs. -jb)
New Jersey has now had four consecutive months of job growth, adding 13,700 jobs over the period. The increase in August came as the nation lost 4,000 jobs.
Yet New Jersey’s growth for the full year has been anemic. The state has added 15,500 jobs so far in 2007, a rate that would mean employment rising by about 23,000 jobs this year – well below the 33,900 jobs added in 2006. Historically, the state has on average added 40,000 jobs a year.
The state added 1,200 private sector jobs, and lost 700 government jobs. The biggest job additions came in the education and health sector. The biggest losses were in manufacturing, reversing a rare increase in manufacturing employment of 1,500 new jobs in July. There was no change in construction employment.
James Hughes, a Rutgers University economist, said the state’s addition of far fewer jobs than last month showed the impact of the national employment decline.
“We have been growing,” he said. “But when you look at it over the eight-month period, it’s positive growth but it’s very slow.”
His Rutgers colleague, economist Joseph Seneca, said he expects the state’s job growth to be slow for the rest of the year, dragged down by the unfavorable national picture.
Joel Naroff, chief economist for Cherry Hill-based Commerce Bank, said the figures showed “the state is moving forward, but the pace is still sluggish.”