Unemployment Up, But Trend is Positive
New Jersey's unemployment rate inched up in October to 6.6 percent, and while preliminary estimates put job losses for the month at 4,500, the overall trend in the job market is a positive one.
"We had a slight tick up, but these are preliminary numbers and each of the last five months or so, we've had major revisions up," said Hal Wirths, commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "Last month, we actually created 3,000 jobs rather than the reported 600 jobs. This month shows a decrease of 4,500 jobs, but there's a silver lining. The number of people participating in the labor market has actually soared. Our labor participation rate actually went up to 64, which is the second-highest jump in state history."
A record 24,800 people in New Jersey joined the labor force between September and October. Since February 2010, the recessionary low point for private sector work in the Garden State, private sector employment has increased by 146,000 jobs.
The industries which showed the greatest job gains in October were financial services (+1,300), and education and health care services (+1,700). The biggest losses were reported in construction (-3,500) and business services (-3,000). Manufacturing was flat. The employment figures were based on a survey of approximately 5,000 New Jersey businesses, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Over the year from October to October, there were 68,200 New Jersey residents employed who weren't employed the year before, so I think things are looking good," Wirths said. "We had the recession and then Sandy, and when things were improving we saw the casino closures in Atlantic City, but that seems to be a temporary blip. In five of the last seven months, our numbers have been revised up the following month. It's also encouraging that people feel that their chance of getting a job or that they are employed is way up from last month."
Nationally, the unemployment rate in October was 5.8 percent, a six-year low.