Numbers game: Jobs are up, unemployment is down – and N.J. ranks ahead of other Northeast states

State officials were quick to tout the latest release of job numbers in New Jersey Thursday, as they showed employment is up in the state (11,700 jobs were added in November) and the state’s unemployment level remains lower than the national average (3.4% compared to 3.7%).

How the state compares to others in the Northeast may be even more noteworthy.

According to statistics released by the labor department, the state fares well in year-to-year comparisons (based on the latest data, from October):

· New Jersey ranks 1st in year-over-year total nonfarm employment percentage growth in the Northeast at 4.2% (Massachusetts is next at 4.0%, followed by New York at 3.5%);

· New Jersey ranks 1st in private sector employment percentage change in the Northeast from a year ago at 4.6% (Massachusetts is next at 4.2%, followed by New York at 3.9%);

· New Jersey’s unemployment rate continues to be the largest year-over-year drop compared to other Northeast states. (The state’s unemployment rate was 5.5% in October of 2021).

Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the N.J. Economic Development Authority, said the latest numbers show the state’s economic efforts are working.

Tim Sullivan. (File photos)

“Under Governor Murphy’s leadership New Jersey’s economic momentum is inarguably strong, with the state poised to recapture our historic leadership in innovation, entrepreneurship and business attraction, while simultaneously cultivating the most diverse and inclusive economy in America,” he said. “This is reflected in New Jersey’s continued economic growth, with our state continuing to lead the region in private sector job creation, all while creating thousands of new jobs through investments in strategic sectors like clean energy, offshore wind, life sciences, financial services, and technology.”

In November, six out of nine major private industry sectors recorded job growth, including:
· Education and health services (+5,300);
· Professional and business services (+3,700);
· Other services (+2,900);
· Construction (+1,600);
· Trade, transportation and utilities (+1,000);
· Financial activities (+100).

Three sectors recorded a loss:
· Leisure and hospitality (-1,800);
· Information (-800);
· Manufacturing (-600).

DOL officials touted the release as the 31st consecutive month of growth dating back to May 2020, though they noted that October’s job numbers have been revised downward by 1,300 to a total loss of 2,500 jobs between September and October.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said the more than two-and-a-half-year trend is impressive by any measure.

Robert Asaro-Angelo.

“We are incredibly encouraged by 31 consecutive months of private-sector job growth given how our nation’s economy was rattled by the pandemic and the labor force uncertainty that lingered as the economy began to recover,” he said.

“We approach 2023 with more people working – and more employers – in New Jersey than at any other point in history.”

Asaro-Angelo said the numbers show that increased employee protections and benefits do not come at the expense of growth.

“Gov. Murphy has enacted stronger worker protections, including a higher minimum wage, paid sick days, and expanded family leave, amongst others,” he said. “We have also worked to level the playing field for law-abiding businesses, which has correlated with historic levels of employment, more employers than ever, and an unemployment rate that is lower than the national average.

“While alarmist naysayers, armed with unscientific surveys, always insist more worker protections will lead to layoffs and business closings, the real data is clear. It is because of – not despite – these proactive measures that New Jersey is leading the region in year-over-year growth.”