October 23, 2021

New Jersey sees an increase in jobs, but unemployment remains high

New Jersey’s nonfarm wage and salary employment added 20,300 jobs in August, marking the eighth consecutive monthly gain in the state’s total nonfarm job level.

According to the numbers, the August increase was split between the private and public sectors, which saw increases of 10,200 and 10,100 jobs, respectively. New Jersey’s employment numbers reached a seasonally adjusted level of more than 3.9 million.

“New Jersey gained more than 20,000 jobs in August, continuing a string of good months,” Charles Steindel, New Jersey’s former chief economist, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative. “Since January monthly job gains have averaged more than 14,000.

“However, at this pace the state will not reach a new peak until early 2023,” Steindel added. “Still, New Jersey’s August job gain was quite strong relative to national increase of 235,000, and only three much larger states (California, Texas and New York) and one considerably smaller one (Kentucky) report larger increases.”

The numbers, released by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, are based on U.S. Bureau of Labor preliminary estimates.

New Jersey has recovered about 65%, or 468,600, of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 at the COVID-19 pandemic’s start. However, Steindel noted that it lags several regional states, including Connecticut (68.5%), Pennsylvania (69%) and Delaware (77.4%), and the national average (76.2%).

Despite the job gains, the state’s unemployment rate was 7.2%, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points. According to Steindel, the rate exceeded the national average (5.2%) and some regional states such as Delaware (5.4%) and Pennsylvania (6.4%).

“Over the 12 months ending in August, jobs are reported to have increased by more than 200,000, while the number of employed residents has risen barely 90,000,” Steindel said. “The monthly job figures, derived from a fairly large number of employers is considered more reliable (and, indeed, unemployment insurance tax records suggest that the number of jobs in the state are currently being undercounted by more than 50,000).

“Also puzzling is the continuing weakness in the state’s labor force, which is reported to have declined by nearly 90,000 over the last 12 months,” Steindel added. “Without that labor force decline the unemployment rate would be about 2 points higher.”

During a news briefing last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said the expiration of extended unemployment benefits earlier this month could help bring more people back into the workforce.

“I hope it helps address the labor market challenges that we’ve had,” Murphy said during a Wednesday briefing, according to a transcript.

“I personally think it will have perhaps a modest impact on that,” the governor added. “I don’t think it was a big driver to begin with. I think it probably was a factor. We will see. We’ll know in time.”

This article was originally posted on New Jersey sees an increase in jobs, but unemployment remains high