Is New Jersey’s labor market cooling off? July jobs report suggests poor showing 

man seek for a job in a newspaper

New Jersey’s total job count is showing signs of cooling off. According to a Thursday announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the Garden State increased by 1,000 in July as growth in the public sector rose by 8,400 jobs, while the private sector experienced a decline of 7,400 jobs — possibly due to a combination of some odd timing of summer job hiring and end-of-school-year layoffs. Adding to the somber figures are June figures revised downward to show a loss of 4,200 jobs instead of preliminary gains of 600.

The bureau also reported that the state’s unemployment rate increased to 3.9%, from 3.7%, due, in part, to additional residents entering the labor force.

Looking at where the job gains and losses were, construction jobs rose 2,400, and education and health gained 2,100. The results in other sectors were dismal, with professional and business services down 5,400 and leisure and hospitality — which had not reached its pre-pandemic peak — down 5,300.

“The national numbers have in recent months shown some slowdown in job growth. The deceleration has been more marked here in New Jersey. To be sure, it’s difficult to adjust for normal seasonal movements in employment during the summer months, and that problem could be worse here than in some other parts of the nation,” Charles Steindel, former chief economist of the state of New Jersey, said.

“Before seasonal adjustment, leisure and hospitality jobs rose 2,400, but the estimate was that a 7,700 increase was needed to keep the adjusted count stable. Nevertheless, the combination of the widespread pattern of job losses in private sectors, the downward revision to June, and the rise in unemployment, is disquieting,” Steindel added.

Preliminary estimates for August will be released on Sept. 14.