Well, when the governor calls a press conference to talk about a jobs report, you know you’re primed to hear some of the best news in a long time.
Sure enough, Chris Christie was in full on told-ya-so mode today, touting the addition of 17,600 jobs in May as further proof that the “New Jersey Comeback” is here to stay.
Far be it from me to complain — the faster New Jersey adds jobs, the faster I’ll be able to quit the news racket and get myself a real job. But right now, it looks like most of those jobs are low-paying service positions cleaning the toilets at the just-opened Revel casino, as opposed to the kind of higher-wage positions the state really needs to attract. And judging by the amount of capital — political and paper — New Jersey has tied into Revel, it’s unlikely we can afford to open enough casinos to power much of a jobs comeback.
In fact, taking a closer look at the numbers, you see New Jersey lost nearly 5,000 jobs in the financial activities sector; to my knowledge, financial and insurance professionals do not work for $12 an hour to swab the pool deck or bring mai tais to silver-haired slot players busy converting their Social Security checks into casino winnings.
Then, there’s all the public-sector hiring. Governments added a net 4,700 jobs, including 3,800 at the local level. Remember all the bluster about towns seeking to exceed the property tax cap, and how they should slash budgets like the love child of Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden, even if it meant jobs? Suddenly, Christie likes those jobs very much.
Look, as the state battles out of the depths of a painful recession, any job is a good job. But New Jersey still trails the nation in employment recovery, we’re still losing jobs in key areas and we’re still bending over backwards to create a tax cut we can’t afford. The New Jersey Comeback may have wheels, but we’re still waiting for someone to put an engine under the hood.
I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.