New Jersey unemployment rate increases to 9.8 percent; state loses 12,000 jobs

TRENTON – New Jersey’s unemployment rate increased to 9.8 percent, a 0.2 percent increase from the prior month, as the state lost 12,000 jobs in July.

The Garden State’s unemployment rate remains well above the 8.3 percent national unemployment rate.

While state officials acknowledged the disappointing numbers, they still see a positive trend for the long run, as some 41,000 jobs were added in the last one-year period and 79,000 jobs since February 2010.

“The national economy has been sluggish and, realistically, we can’t be exempt.  Given the national softness and the strength of our job gains in May and June some fallback was likely,” said Charles Steindel, chief economist for the Treasury Department. “Still, New Jersey’s labor force participation rate and the percentage of our population who are employed remain above the national averages. Considering we have seen job growth in 9 out of the past 11 months, we anticipate that job growth should resume and start to put some downward pressure on unemployment.”

Job losses occurred both in the private sector (-7,100) and public sector (-4,900).

Professional and business services (-3,900 jobs), management (-4,600), manufacturing (-3,000) and construction (-2,700),financial activities (-400) and information (-300).

The largest over-the-month gain occurred in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,600), mainly due to advances in the transportation and warehousing (+1,900) and wholesale trade (+800) subsectors. Smaller gains occurred in other services (+600), education and health services (+500), and leisure and hospitality (+500).

In July, public sector employment was down by 4,900 due to the trimming of payrolls at all three levels of government: federal (-300), state (-2,400) and local (-2,200).

Kevin Roberts, spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, said it’s important to look at long-term trends instead of monthly figures. He pointed out that the state’s labor participation rate is higher than the national rate, suggesting that it could increase the possibility of a higher unemployment rate.

He added that other states saw similar bumps in their unemployment rates.

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New Jersey unemployment rate increases to 9.8 percent; state loses 12,000 jobs