April Jobs Numbers: Despite Slight Job Gains, New Jersey Now Has the Fifth Highest Unemployment Rate of the 50 States
New Jersey added 2,600 jobs in April, not enough to wipe out the declines in March, and the state’s unemployment rate ticked up by a percentage point, to 9.1 percent – the highest it’s been since December, state labor officials announced last week.
The increase in the jobless rate pushes New Jersey into dubious company, as it joins Nevada, Rhode Island, California and North Carolina as the states with the five highest unemployment rates in the U.S. (the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also had higher rates). The Garden State was also one of only five states to see its rate bump up in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While New Jersey did have a higher unemployment rate when Gov. Christie took office in early 2010, it was nowhere near the top of the heap. Its January 2010 rate of 9.7 percent was the 19th highest of the 50 states.
Since then, New Jersey’s recovery has lagged most states, pushing it into outlier territory, with an unemployment rate that’s now a full point higher than the national rate of 8.1 percent and even higher than the Northeast regional rate of 7.9 percent.
Administration officials continue to point to positive “longer-term employment trend(s)” and “continuing job growth” in news releases, and any job growth at this point should be considered good news. But it’s important to keep that news in perspective.
Adding 39,000 jobs a year, as we’re doing now, won’t even get New Jersey back to pre-recession employment levels, an analysis done by the Economic Policy Institute shows.
Put another way, New Jersey has 196,000 fewer jobs than it did when the recession officially began in December 2007. To offset those losses, keep up with the state’s 3.8 percent population growth and bridge the overall “jobs deficit,” New Jersey would need to be adding 12,000 jobs a month, or nearly 150,000 a year.
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