NJ Unemployment Rate Fell Slightly In May

TRENTON – New Jersey employment rose in May while the state’s unemployment rate edged lower to 9.7 percent, down by 0.1 percentage point from the April rate (9.8%) and equal to the national rate for May (9.7%).

According to preliminary estimates, total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey increased by 7,600 jobs in May to 3,867,300. The net job gain was due to an increase in public sector jobholding (+11,200) as the federal government added temporary workers for the 2010 Census. Private sector employment fell by 3,600 over the month.


Based on more complete reporting, previously released April estimates were revised upward by 1,200 jobs to a total of 3,859,700, reflecting an over-the-month (March to April) gain of 11,700 jobs. Preliminary estimates had indicated an over-the-month gain of 10,500.

In May, five of ten private industry sectors recorded job gains while four registered a loss; one was unchanged. Notable gains occurred in manufacturing (+2,500) and financial activities (+1,400). In manufacturing, scattered small gains were spread across industries in both the durable (+1,200) and nondurable (+1,300) goods components. The gain in financial activities was mainly due to hiring in the finance and insurance segment (+900). Smaller gains were recorded in other services (+400), trade, transportation and utilities (+300) and information (+300).

Industries with job contraction included education and health services (-3,700), professional and business services (-1,600), leisure and hospitality (-2,500) and construction (-700). The drop in education and health services was due to less employment in the educational services segment which was down by 3,500 jobs. Early semester closings at some of the state’s private schools and colleges resulted in the larger than expected seasonal loss.

Public sector employment was higher by 11,200 over the month boosted by hiring of temporary workers at the federal level (+11,800) to perform canvassing activities for Census 2010. May should represent the peak month of hiring by the U.S. Census Bureau and as a result, federal employment levels will decrease over the next few months as temporary workers are let go.

Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for manufacturing workers increased by 0.6 to 40.7 hours, average hourly earnings decreased by -$0.09 to $18.84 and weekly earnings were up by $7.70 to $766.79. Compared with May of last year, the unadjusted workweek was lower by -0.5 hours, average hourly earnings increased by $0.32 and weekly earnings were up by $3.77.

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