From the Star Ledger:
Despite the thousands of Atlantic City casino workers who lost their jobs last month, the unemployment rate in New Jersey ticked down slightly in September, according to preliminary federal data released by the state today, but still remained above the national average.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent in September from 6.6 percent in August, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported, above the national rate of 5.9 percent. New Jersey’s unemployment rate in July also stood at 6.5 percent.
A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie noted in an e-mail to reporters that “at 6.5 percent, the unemployment rate remains at its lowest level since November 2008” and that the rate had fallen 1.4 percentage points year over year. In September 2013, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.
The state also added 600 jobs overall last month, driven by a bump in public-sector employment that state officials attributed to larger-than-expected seasonal hiring in the education field.
Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland, said the monthly report brought to mind a line from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”: “Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean.”
“That metaphor of a becalmed ship is really what occurred to me when going through it,” he said. “It’s good that we’re not sliding backwards but clearly we do not have any momentum currently in the state’s job markets.”
The preliminary data shows New Jersey lost 6,100 private-sector jobs in September following the closure of three casinos in Atlantic City, while the public sector added 6,700 jobs. The increase in government employment was due to “greater-than-expected seasonal hiring in the state education component,” according to state officials.
The state gained 6,700 jobs year-over-year, according to the report, with 7,000 jobs added in the private sector and 300 jobs lost in the public sector.
The state labor department noted that August’s employment numbers were revised in the report, “showing a gain of 2,900 private sector jobs instead of the originally reported loss of 800.”