BLS examines N.J. employment and wages, county by county

Eric Strauss//July 23, 2015//

BLS examines N.J. employment and wages, county by county

Eric Strauss//July 23, 2015//

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New Jersey got mostly good economic news in a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as both employment and wages grew in 13 of the Garden State’s 15 largest counties.The BLS said Thursday that it compared data from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2013 and found that, among the New Jersey counties with 75,000 or more workers, all but two saw job gains. In addition, all but two saw growth in the average weekly wage.

The two outliers in each category were different, however — for instance, Atlantic County registered the highest wage growth, at 7 percent, but was one of the two counties that saw employment decline, at -5 percent.

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In addition to Atlantic County, Passaic County suffered a loss of jobs, at -0.5 percent. In terms of wages, Morris County, at -2.9 percent, and Camden County, at -0.8 percent, saw salaries slip from 2013 to 2014.

The other 11 counties saw positive employment growth and wage growth.

Overall, statewide employment grew 1.3 percent, while statewide wages grew 2 percent, the BLS found.

The growth numbers for the state’s large counties:

  • Atlantic County: -5 percent employment growth, 7 percent wage growth;
  • Bergen County: 0.7 percent employment growth, 4.2 percent wage growth;
  • Burlington County: 0.6 percent employment growth, 2.4 percent wage growth;
  • Camden County: 1.1 percent employment growth, -0.8 percent wage growth;
  • Essex County: 0.4 percent employment growth, 0.2 percent wage growth;
  • Gloucester County: 2.3 percent employment growth, 1.5 percent wage growth;
  • Hudson County: 1.7 percent employment growth, 3.9 percent wage growth;
  • Mercer County: 3.7 percent employment growth, 1.1 percent wage growth;
  • Middlesex County: 1 percent employment growth, 2.4 percent wage growth;
  • Monmouth County: 2.5 percent employment growth, 1.7 percent wage growth;
  • Morris County: 0.2 percent employment growth, -2.9 percent wage growth;
  • Ocean County: 2 percent employment growth, 2.1 percent wage growth;
  • Passaic County: -0.5 percent employment growth, 2.4 percent wage growth;
  • Somerset County: 2.2 percent employment growth, 3.6 percent wage growth;
  • Union County: 0.5 percent employment growth, 4.5 percent wage growth.

Four of the counties posted employment growth equal to or exceeding the 2.2 percent national average, according to the BLS. Mercer County led the way statewide, with a 3.7 percent figure. Conversely, Atlantic County’s 5 percent employment decline was the lowest number not only statewide, but was the worst figure among the nation’s 339 large counties. Weld County, Colorado, and Midland County, Texas, had the highest figure nationwide, at 8 percent growth each.

Meanwhile, five of the counties posted wage gains above the 3.5 percent national average, the BLS said. Among the large counties nationwide, Atlantic County’s 7 percent gain ranked 11th overall. On the other end of the spectrum, Morris County’s 2.9 percent loss ranked 337th. Benton County, Arkansas, registered the largest wage increase, at 9.9 percent.

When it came to the average weekly wage, the statewide average of $1,211 per week handily topped the national average of $1,035.

One caveat: The average gain of 2 percent was only good for 49th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The weekly average wage for the state’s 21 counties — including the smaller Cape May, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Salem, Sussex and Warren:

  • Atlantic County: $872;
  • Bergen County: $1,291;
  • Burlington County: $1,060;
  • Camden County: $1,017;
  • Cape May County: $742;
  • Cumberland County: $878;
  • Essex County: $1,234;
  • Gloucester County: $909;
  • Hudson County: $1,335;
  • Hunterdon County: $1,187;
  • Mercer County: $1,306;
  • Middlesex County: $1,217;
  • Monmouth County: $1,053;
  • Morris County: $1,512;
  • Ocean County: $845;
  • Passaic County: $1,016;
  • Salem County: $1,140;
  • Somerset County: $1,543;
  • Sussex County: $880;
  • Union County: $1,341;
  • Warren County: $947.

The BLS said 10 of the 15 largest counties had an average weekly wage above the national average, as did two of the state’s six smaller counties.

The three highest-paying counties in the state — Somerset, Morris and Union — all made the Top 20 nationwide. By contrast, the lowest-paying county — Cape May — ranked 278th, in the bottom quartile nationally. San Mateo County, California, had the highest wages nationwide, at $2,166 per week.

San Mateo County was, however, one of only seven counties nationally to experience a decline in average wage, coming in last in the U.S. with a 20.4 percent drop.

The BLS pointed out that the nine counties that topped the national average were in northern and central New Jersey, while all of the counties with a weekly wage below $850 were in the southeastern portion of the state.


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