NJ Added 17,600 Jobs In May; Unemployment Rate Is 9.2%

TRENTON – New Jersey employers added 17,600 jobs to their payrolls in May, the largest monthly gain in more than seven years. New Jersey’s economy has now added jobs in eight out of the last nine months. Over the year, May 2011 – May 2012, total nonfarm employment in New Jersey has increased by 59,800 jobs.

The state’s May unemployment rate edged slightly higher to 9.2 percent from April’s 9.1 percent. The rise was due to an expanding state labor force as May saw an influx of new entrants and re-entrants to the state’s labor market. New Jersey’s rate is one percentage point above the national rate of 8.2 percent, which moved slightly higher in May from 8.1 percent in April.

“We’re seeing sustained economic growth with continued job creation at a rate we haven’t experienced in the last decade,” said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. “While our unemployment rate has ticked up slightly it is because growth in the labor force has outstripped population growth. We’re seeing continued confidence in our job market as our labor force participation rate keeps increasing, even outpacing the national rate.”

Preliminary estimates indicate that total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey advanced considerably in May, up by 17,600 jobs, to a seasonally adjusted 3,907,500, as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly employer survey. Gains were registered in both the private (+12,900) and public (+4,700) sectors of the state’s economy.

Based on more complete reporting from employers, previously released April estimates were revised slightly higher, up by 600 jobs, to show an over-the-month (March – April) total nonfarm employment gain of 3,200 jobs. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month gain of 2,600 jobs.

In May, private sector job gains were posted in six of ten industry sectors; three recorded losses while one was unchanged. The industry sector with the largest gain was leisure and hospitality, which added 9,900 jobs, boosted by greater than expected seasonal gains and by hiring at Revel Atlantic City, a new entertainment resort and hotel. Other industries that registered larger gains included trade, transportation and utilities (+4,300), professional and business services (+4,000) and education and health services (+3,000). In trade, transportation and utilities, gains were recorded in all three components; retail trade (+2,100), transportation and warehousing (+1,800) and wholesale trade (+400). The advance in professional and business services was due to hiring in the administrative support/waste management/remediation segment (+3,900) while the increase in education and health services was split among the educational services (+1,700) and the health care (+1,300) components.

The largest over-the-month loss occurred in the financial activities industry sector (-4,800), mainly due to cutbacks in the finance and insurance subsector (-3,400). Losses also occurred in construction (-3,900) and manufacturing (-1,200).

In May, public sector employment was higher by 4,700 due mainly to summer season hiring at the local (+3,800) and state (+1,400) government levels.

Over the month, the unadjusted workweek for production workers decreased 0.2 hours to 41.1 hours, average hourly earnings were lower by $0.12 to $19.31 and weekly earnings fell by $8.82 to $793.64. Compared to May of last year, the unadjusted workweek increased by 1.1 hours, average hourly earnings increased by $0.19 and weekly earnings were higher by $28.84.

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