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Employers hire 10,000, but N.J. jobless rate jumps to 9.6 percent

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New Jersey employers added 9,900 jobs to payrolls in June, with gains registered in both the private and public sectors.

However, the unemployment rate moved up to 9.6 percent in June from 9.2 percent in May, as the number of residents who started looking for work outpaced job creation.

"In recent months, New Jersey employers have been adding jobs at rates not seen in years, and at a faster pace than the nation as a whole," said Charles Steindel, chief economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, in a statement. "If the job count keeps rising at this pace, unemployment will inevitably come down."

According to Steindel, New Jersey's employment has increased by nearly 25,000 jobs over the past two months, which represents the largest two-month gain in more than 12 years. Over the year, total nonfarm employment in New Jersey has increased by 65,000 jobs.

May's job numbers were revised down by 3,200 jobs, for a total nonfarm employment gain of 14,400 jobs.

According to James W. Hughes, dean of Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, New Jersey has added nearly the same number of jobs in the past six months as it did in the last full year.

"Last year's numbers were better than any other year, following 2000, when we added about 60,000 jobs. But we're on track to surpass the year 2000 if we maintain things," Hughes said. "Comparatively, the national jobs gain for the first six months of this year was less than the equivalent six-month period in 2011, so we've held up while they've been down."

The leisure and hospitality sector posted the largest job gains in June, with 6,100 jobs, which Steindel said was "boosted by greater than expected seasonal hiring." Other industries in the private sector that recorded large employment gains were education and health services, with 2,500 jobs; professional and business services, with 2,000 jobs; and financial activities, with 1,200 jobs.

Hughes said employment growth in the leisure and hospitality industry is a "barometer of the health of the overall economy, showing that people are spending more money in restaurants and on entertainment," but he noted those job gains consist of "mostly below-average paying jobs." While Hughes said slow growth in the financial and technology sectors is still a concern, he said job gains across a "mix of economic sectors is generally good."

Local government drove gains in the public sector, with 3,100 jobs, while payrolls were shed at the state and federal levels.

"Gains at the local government level show seasonal adjustment has been all over the place this year," Hughes said. "Why local government employment would increase … in June, when schools were closing down, is odd to me."

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