TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie said the state’s recent labor report that showed New Jersey’s jobless rate took a slight jump isn’t bad news at all.
“Things are going well,” Christie told reporters at a Monday news conference, explaining the uptick in unemployment was because more job seekers are re-entering the hunt for work.
“When you understand what the rate is really about,” he said, referring to unemployment reports, “(It’s) an optimistic sign.”
The governor’s comments come after the state labor department reported last week New Jersey’s unemployment rate jumped slightly in June to 9.6 percent – compared with May’s 9.2 percent jobless rate.
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported the state’s employers added 9,900 jobs to their payrolls last month. However, New Jersey’s unemployment rate is now 1.4 points above the national average, signifying the largest gap between New Jersey’s state and national rates in more than 30 years, according to reports.
The two-year high unemployment rate provided Democrats with an opportunity last week to pounce on the governor.
Senate and Assembly Democrats released a flurry of statements criticizing Christie’s policies and saying, for example, “Instead of yelling at everyone to ‘get the hell off the beach,’ he should stop burying his head in the sand,” said Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, in a release last week.
Christie brushed off last week’s criticism, saying today the state continues to add private-sector jobs – a very positive sign, he said.
“The numbers indicate that the comeback is still very strong,” he said, referring to his “New Jersey Comeback” slogan.
“People in New Jersey share my view that the comeback has begun,” said Christie, adding that “people who have been basically sitting out” of looking for work “are actively looking” now because they’re feeling more optimistic about the economy and the state’s future.
“What I look at every month is how many more New Jerseyans are back to work,” he said.
The governor argued state has been creating jobs at a record pace and said the higher unemployment is simply an indicator that more unemployed are looking for jobs.