TRENTON – The state’s unemployment rate declined over the month, down by 0.1 percent, to a December rate of 9.0 percent. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has trended lower over the past several months, dropping in four out of the last five months.
Total employment in the Garden State was little changed in December. Preliminary estimates indicate that total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey increased by 400 jobs in December to a seasonally adjusted 3,881,100, as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly employer survey. Private sector employment was lower by 2,000, while public sector employment rose by 2,400 over the month, due mainly to gains at the local government level.
“The numbers show that 2011 was the best year for private sector job growth since the year 2000. 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,” said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury.
A preliminary over-the-year analysis shows that from December 2010 – December 2011, 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. Moreover, 2011 represents the second consecutive year of private sector job growth and reductions in public sector payrolls.
It should be noted that the employment figures released each month are estimates from a sample-based survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to annual revisions. This required annual review process, or benchmarking, incorporates more complete data from all New Jersey employers. The benchmarked data, which will present a more accurate picture of the New Jersey economy for the entire calendar year of 2011, will be released on March 8, 2012.
Based on more complete reporting from employers, previously released November estimates were shown to be slightly lower. The estimate of total employment in November was revised down by 300 jobs, to show an over-the-month (October-November) total nonfarm employment gain of 10,000 jobs. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month gain of 10,300.
In December, private sector job gains were posted in five of ten industry sectors; four recorded a loss while one was unchanged. Industries that recorded significant gains included financial activities (+1,800), professional and business services (+1,500), other services (+1,300), and education and health services (+300). Job losses occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (-4,100), construction (-2,800), manufacturing (-200) and leisure and hospitality (-100).
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 last year, the unadjusted workweek increased by 1.0 hour, average hourly earnings increased by $0.98 and weekly earnings were higher by $59.45.
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