N.J. adds jobs in September, sees unemployment rate plummet (due to workforce exits)

Completing an employment application form

New Jersey’s employment level rose in September, according to the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development, as the Garden State added 60,200 jobs for the month.

Estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the state’s total nonfarm wage and salary employment grew to 3.878 million, with both the public and private sectors gaining jobs. The public sector added 17,600 positions, while the private sector added 42,600 for the month.

The Department of Labor said the state has regained 467,600 jobs in the five months since April, roughly 56% of the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy. That topped the national mark, which is about 52%, the state said.

In addition, New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell by 4.4 percentage points, to 6.7% — moving below the national rate of 7.9%. However, the state noted the drop was primarily due to workers leaving the labor force and not to the employment gains.

“The September labor market figures were a conflicting medley: a solid increase in jobs (swelled by temporary census hiring), a remarkable drop in the unemployment rate and an even more astonishing collapse in labor force participation,” Charles Steindel, a former chief economist for the state and resident scholar, Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College, said in a statement issued by the Garden State Initiative think tank.

Employment did grow in eight of the nine major private industry sectors, led by leisure and hospitality, which added 18,800 jobs. Only the information sector recorded a decline, and that was a mere 100 positions.