Unemployment rate hits 9.9 percent

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in August, while the state added 5,300 jobs.

The preliminary August numbers put the state’s jobless rate at its highest level since April 1977, when it also stood at 9.9 percent. The August numbers are subject to revision.

The July unemployment figures were revised up by 4,700 jobs, putting the overall job loss for the month at 7,300 jobs.  A spokesman for the Department of Labor said the revision will likely mean the July unemployment rate, reported at 9.8 percent, will drop to 9.7 percent when the final numbers are tallied early next year, however, state economist Charles Steindel said he could not commit to any revision.   

The largest employment gains for August were seen in the professional and business services industry sector, which added 6,100 jobs. Gains also occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 2,900 jobs.

The industry sector with the largest loss was manufacturing, which dropped 2,700 jobs.

The private sector has added 47,100 jobs over the past year and 86,200 jobs since February 2010. 

Public sector employment rose by 3,500 jobs due to gains at the local (+2,700) and federal (+700) government levels.

The release of the jobless numbers caps a rough week in economic news that began when Standard & Poors ratings agency dropped its outlook on the state’s credit rating from stable to negative.  Wednesday, revenue numbers came up short of projections for the first two months of the new fiscal year.

A spokesman for the governor called the numbers “inexplicable” because of the uptick in the rate despite the addition of 5,300 jobs.

“Ultimately, what we know is the record levels of job creation experienced over parts of 2011 and 2012 have slowed in the past months,” said spokesman Kevin Roberts in a release detailing discrepancies in the two surveys used to report unemplyment. “But, with the revision to July’s figures and the fresh August numbers, the report issued today shows a turnaround of 10,000 jobs for the state.  We’re continuing to move in the right direction of positive private sector job creation, and that trajectory is simply not accounted for in the unemployment rate, which needs to be considered in the context of the facts above.”

But Democrats were quick to dismiss Roberts’ comments as pure spin.  

“This feels like Groundhog Day. Every month we have to hear the same bad news, followed by the same inevitable spin from this administration trying to hide why it is so completely inept at getting people back to work,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said. “While the Legislature will be working on measures to create jobs in New Jersey, and has already put ideas forward, we still have not heard a thing from the governor on how we are going to get people back to work.  Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the governor’s new flashy banner and latest town hall spiel are missing any mention of the word ‘jobs.”


Unemployment rate hits 9.9 percent