The preliminary jobs data for September confirms New Jersey’s sideways crawl out of the Great Recession. The state’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 9.8 percent, but remains the fourth highest rate in the U.S.
The state’s unemployment rate is now a full 2 percentage points above the national rate of 7.8 percent, and the two rates have moved in divergent directions over the past year. From September 2011 to September 2012, the national unemployment rate dropped by 1.2 percentage points, while New Jersey’s rose by 0.4 percentage points.
In a reversal of recent months, September saw a rate decrease accompanied by a net loss in jobs. New Jersey lost 1,200 jobs in September, driven by a loss of 2,300 public-sector jobs that offset meager growth in the private sector. This is in line with the findings of NJPP’s recent report that found the loss of public jobs to be an important contributor to New Jersey’s trailing jobs recovery. In past recessions, public job growth contributed significantly to rebounding employment; in this recession, however, the opposite has occurred.
Meanwhile, the job growth of 5,300 jobs first reported for August was revised down by more than half, to actual growth of 2,300 jobs. While the state has added 44,000 jobs in the past year, that’s nowhere near the 12,000 jobs each month the state needs to create to return to pre-recession unemployment rates three years from now. What’s more, in recent months job growth has slowed significantly. Since May, New Jersey has only seen the addition of 1,100 jobs – an average of 275 jobs per month.
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