New Jersey labor market remains robust; unemployment rate steady at 3.5%

New Jersey’s labor market remained strong in April, with nonfarm employment increasing by 15,800 jobs to a seasonally adjusted level of 4.33 million, and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.5%, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week.

“April was far, far from the cruelest month (T.S. Eliot’s term) for New Jersey workers,” Charles Steindel, former chief economist of the state of New Jersey, said. “The state added 15,800 to its payroll count, after two months in which there was virtually no change. (There was a drop of 3,100 in February and an increase of 2,800 in March. March was initially reported as 2,600 drop.)”

The March unemployment rate remained at 3.5%.

The job gains took place entirely in the private sector, which recorded a month-over-month increase of 15,900 jobs, while the public sector shed 100 jobs for the month. The labor force participation rate continued to rise, reaching 65% last month, the highest rate since June 2013.

In April, seven out of nine major private industry sectors experienced job growth. Sectors that recorded employment increases were:

  • Professional & business services (+7,600);
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities (+3,600);
  • Education and health services (+2,700);
  • Leisure and hospitality (+1,200);
  • Financial activities (+600);
  • Construction (+300); and
  • Other services (+200).

Sectors that recorded a loss were information (-300) and manufacturing (-100).