TRENTON – Employment in the Garden State fell in August, down by 7,100 jobs largely due to a labor strike affecting 7,000 Verizon employees. After accounting for the Verizon strikers, who have already returned to work, total employment in New Jersey declined by 100 jobs.
Despite the job losses, New Jersey’s official unemployment rate decreased in August, moving lower by 0.1 percentage point to 9.4 percent. This suggests that more people have given up looking for work.
“While our numbers reflect the softening of the national economy and were impacted by a significant labor dispute, this year’s uptrend in employment is still quite evident. The move down in the unemployment rate in August, small as it was, also was welcome news,” said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury.
Preliminary estimates indicate that total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey decreased in August to a seasonally adjusted 3,866,600, as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly employer survey. Private sector payrolls were lower by 11,300 over the month (4,300 after accounting for 7,000 striking Verizon workers returning to work) with six of ten industry sectors recording declines, two posting gains and two showing no change. Public sector employment was up by 4,200, representing a seasonal increase in higher education.
Based on more complete reporting from employers, previously released July estimates were revised higher, up by 800, to show an over-the-month (June-July) total nonfarm employment gain of 2,600 jobs. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month gain of 1,800 jobs.
Industries that recorded significant job loss included information (-7,000), leisure and hospitality (-4,400), and professional and business services (-1,600). The drop in information was due to the previously mentioned impact of the Verizon work stoppage while the loss in leisure and hospitality was a result of greater than expected seasonal contraction in the accommodation and food services component (-4,100). The contraction in professional and business services was seen in the administrative support/waste management/remediation services segment (-2,600). Smaller losses were recorded in the financial activities (-900), manufacturing (-600) and trade transportation and utilities (-100) industry sectors.
Two industries registered job gains in August, other services (+2,400) and education and health services (+900). Other services include businesses such as automotive repair, personal care services, and religious, professional and grantmaking organizations. Employment in education and health services was higher due to job gains in the health services component (+1,300).
Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for production workers remained unchanged at 40.3 hours, average hourly earnings fell by $0.08 to $18.80 and weekly earnings were down by $3.22 to $757.64. Compared to August of last year, the unadjusted workweek decreased by 0.1 hour, average hourly earnings increased by $0.06 and weekly earnings were higher by $0.54.
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