August Jobs Numbers: New Jersey’s Parallel Recovery
New Jersey lost 1,500 jobs in August, marking the second straight month of job loss, as well as the second straight month of the unemployment rate decreasing, as the official labor force – those actively looking for work or working – shrunk to the lowest size it has been in a year.
Taken together, the state has lost 12,200 jobs in the past two months, though year-over-year, it has added a total of 64,700 jobs – an increase of 1.7 percent, pretty much on pace with the national year-over-year jobs increase of 1.6 percent.
But the larger picture remains troubling, as New Jersey took far longer to start to crawl out of the recession than the rest of the country, and is in effect currently experiencing a parallel recovery – its economy is improving at about the same rate as the rest of the nation, but we have higher levels of joblessness and much further to go to get back to pre-recession employment levels.
That trend can be seen in a few key indicators:
The state’s unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent. While that is the lowest rate New Jersey has seen since March 2009, it remains the eighth highest of the 50 states, 1.2 percentage points higher than the national rate and about a point higher than our neighbors in New York (7.6 percent) and Pennsylvania (7.7 percent).
New Jersey has recovered only about half (51 percent) of the jobs it lost in the recession, far fewer than our neighbors in New York (145 percent) and Pennsylvania (82 percent), as well as the nation as a whole (78 percent).
The state’s jobs deficit – the number of jobs New Jersey needs to get back to pre-recession levels and keep up with population growth – stands at 321,300, or 8 percent of the total number of jobs currently in the state. The deficit in New York is 131,500 (1 percent of that state’s current jobs level); in Pennsylvania it’s 255,800 (4 percent); and in the entire U.S. it’s 9,489,100 (7 percent).