The national unemployment rate edged down one-tenth of a percentage point, to 9.1 percent, in July as 117,000 were hired, according to this morning’s federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Some New Jersey economists had contrasting views of the development.
“Today’s results are a relief,” said James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “The growth is better than we thought, and it remains on an upward trajectory.”
The private sector added 154,000 positions during the month, while 37,000 government jobs disappeared, according to Labor.
“The gain in private sector jobs is what’s important,” Hughes said, noting governments are trying to trim their budgets. “There is a dichotomy, though, between jobs growth, which is strong, and gross domestic product, where growth remains very weak.”
Hughes said the GDP — which measures the market value of all goods and services produced in the country — was likely constrained by a number of issues, including high energy prices, inclement weather and weak consumer confidence.
But another economist wasn’t impressed by the report.
“The 117,000 jobs gain may appear to be large,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at the Roseland CPA firm J.H. Cohn LLP. “But that’s in part because expectations were so low that a snail could have jumped over them. The fact is that we were averaging about 135,000 new jobs per month during the first year of the recovery that started in March 2010, and that level of job creation was characterized as tepid. So this level is substandard.”
Even if the report is perceived by some observers as a positive sign, “it’s really one more in an array of disappointing economic reports we’ve seen during the last two months,” O’Keefe said.