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New Jersey adds 14,600 jobs, unemployment rate increases to 7.3%

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A Help Wanted sign hangs at an arcade on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, on Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey). Ted Shaffrey/AP

New Jersey adds 14,600 jobs, unemployment rate increases to 7.3%

August 20, 02:00 PM August 20, 02:01 PM

New Jersey added 14,600 nonfarm wage and salary jobs in July, but the state’s unemployment rate still increased.

It marked the seventh consecutive month of nonfarm job gains, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development said.

“In normal times, that would be a strong increase, but in light of the still-large shortfall from the early 2020 peak, and the national increase of 943,000 in July, the number isn’t all that impressive,” Charles Steindel, former New Jersey chief economist, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative (GSI).

The private sector saw the addition of 21,100 jobs, and the Garden State has recovered 441,700, about 62%, of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was a large 6,500 drop in government jobs in New Jersey; this was radically different than the strong increase in government employment across the nation,” Steindel said. “July always sees a large drop in government jobs in New Jersey after the end of the school year; for whatever reason this year the drop was larger than the seasonal adjustment factors had assumed.”

The state’s unemployment rate for June was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 7.2%. In July, the rate edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 7.3%; nationally, the unemployment rate was 5.4%.

“July’s overall job gain was in line with the average we’ve seen since January,” Steindel said. “The state is still nearly 275,000 jobs shy of the February 2020 peak, which would suggest that at this pace of growth we will not set a new peak until early 2023.

“However, yesterday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data suggesting that the number of jobs in New Jersey’s total was significantly understated early this year; quite possibly by more than 50,000,” Steindel added.

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