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N.J. jobless rate drops to 9%, lowest since May 2009

jobsbriefcase031011_opt7,300 people found work in December, 7,200 lost their jobs

BY TOM HESTER SR.
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

New Jersey’s unemployment rate in December dropped 0.1 percent to 9 percent, the lowest jobless rate in the state since May 2009, 31 months ago.

And while the state’s unemployment rate has declined in four of the last five months, that is not welcome news to the 7,200 New Jerseyans who lost their jobs in the private sector. Another 7,300 people found work, including 2,400 who obtained public employment, mainly in municipal and county governments.

Job losses occurred in construction 2,800, manufacturing 200, trade, transportation and utilities 4,100, and leisure and hospitality 100. Job gains were made in financial activities 1,800, professional and business services 1,500, other services 1,300, and education and health services 300.

The number of New Jerseyans who had jobs at the end of last month was 3,881,100. Another 410,700 are unemployed.

“The numbers show that 2011 was the best year for private sector job growth since the year 2000,” state Chief Economist Charles Steindel said. “We still have a long way to go to get back close to full employment, but it's evident we are going in the right direction.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), a labor leader, was not impressed by the drop in the unemployment rate.

“The numbers show that while unemployment went down slightly, New Jersey still remains well above the national average,” Sweeney said. “In his State of the State, Governor Governor Christie said that New Jersey was headed in one direction and the country in another. That seems true, but not in the way he meant it. The country has seen the unemployment rate drop by half a point, while in the last three months, New Jersey has dropped just one tenth of a point.

“In that same speech, the governor also made sure to mock New York and Connecticut for their fiscal policies, and yet both states have unemployment rates lower than New Jersey’s,” the senator said. “In fact, all our neighbors have unemployment rates lower than New Jersey’s and lower than the national average.

“While it is always encouraging to see a downward trend in unemployment, these figures are obviously not anywhere close to where we need them to be,” Sweeney said. “I can’t help but wonder where we might be if the governor hadn’t vetoed most of our ‘Back to Work’ bills last spring. I also wonder where we might end up considering all the bills he just vetoed that would have created jobs for working people. It seems the governor has found money to give huge tax breaks to millionaires, but he doesn’t want to invest a single penny in trying to create jobs for middle class folks.”

A preliminary over-the-year analysis by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development shows that from December 2010 through last December, private sector employment increased by 39,400 jobs, while public sector payrolls declined by 3,000. The private sector job gain was the largest December- December gain since the December 1999 – December 2000 period. Labor Department officials maintain 2011 represents the second consecutive year of private sector job growth and reductions in public sector payrolls.

Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for production workers increased 0.1 hour to 41.3 hours, average hourly earnings were higher by $1.02 to $19.95 and weekly earnings increased by $44.02 to $823.94. Compared to December of 2010, the unadjusted workweek increased by 1.0 hour, average hourly earnings increased by $0.98 and weekly earnings were higher by $59.45.

 
Comments (1)
1 Friday, 20 January 2012 04:56
cynthiaheil
Although past recessions have been easier on college grads than high school grads, the needs of a "21st century economy" have magnified the stark difference between education level and joblessness that is why we need degree from High Speed Universities

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