New Jersey’s August jobs report saw the state set a new high for jobs and a 21st consecutive month of jobs growth, but that came with a rise in the unemployment rate.
Last month, the Garden State added 15,400 jobs, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure, combined with a revision of the July figures, brought the total numbers of jobs in the state to 4,241,200 — a new record.
The state has added an average of 12,700 jobs per month over the past three months.
“Almost all sectors saw gains in August, with an increase of 2,600 in construction particularly noticeable, being the second straight gain after three months with losses,” said Charles Steindel, former chief economist of the State of New Jersey, who analyzed the report for the Garden State Initiative. “Leisure and hospitality jobs fell 1,000; however, August counts in this sector can be heavily affected by the specific timing of departures of seasonal workers (before seasonal adjustment, the leisure and hospitality job number fell by more than 7,000).”
In total, six out of the nine major private industry sectors recorded job growth last month, led by trade, transportation and utilities (+5,400); education and health services (+4,200); along with the aforementioned gain in construction.
The numbers also showed a 27,700 increase in the state’s labor force, which was the largest monthly gain since November 2020, bringing the total to 4,694,100, the highest since August 2020.
“The labor force numbers have been quite volatile since the start of the pandemic, but we have now seen five straight monthly gains, for a total increase of 76,200 since March,” said Steindel.
The increase in the labor force is an encouraging trend, but it also led to a rise in the state’s unemployment rate from 3.7% to 4.0%. That trend also led to a rise in the national unemployment rate from 3.5% to 3.7%.
“While it is disappointing that New Jersey’s unemployment rate increased, and that our gap with the national rate ticked up, the message of the report is that job growth in the state remains strong, and it may be the case that people who had withdrawn from the labor force are coming back to look for jobs,” said Steindel.
The September jobs report will be released Oct. 20, 2022.