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In dramatic reversal, N.J. posts 12,000 job losses for July

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New Jersey employers shed 12,000 jobs in July after months of gains, while the state's unemployment rate ballooned to 9.8 percent, pushing it further above the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.

“The national economy has been sluggish and, realistically, we can’t be exempt. Given the national softness and the strength of our job gains in May and June, some fallback was likely,” said Charles Steindel, chief economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, in a statement. “Considering we have seen job growth in nine out of the past 11 months, we anticipate that job growth should resume and start to put some downward pressure on unemployment.”

Both the private and public sectors posted job losses in July, and June estimates were revised down by 2,600 jobs, for a gain of 7,300. However, Steindel noted April to June was still the largest two-month job gain in 12 years, and the state’s “labor force participation rate and the percentage of our population who are employed remain above the national averages.”

James W. Hughes, dean of Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the state had outpaced stagnant national job growth until July’s jobs numbers were released today, which he said shows “it’s possibly payback time.”

“We just had big jumps on a month-to-month basis, and that’s always problematical. We take one and a half steps forward and then one step backward,” Hughes said. “As of last month, we almost matched total job growth in 2011, but now we’re behind. If we bounce back in August like we did in April, we will probably exceed last year’s job gain, but we may only barely surpass it.”

The professional and business services sector recorded the largest employment drop in July as it lost 3,900 jobs, which Steindel said resulted from cutbacks in administrative support and remediation. Other industries in the private sector that shed payrolls were manufacturing, which lost 3,000 jobs; construction, down 2,700; and financial activities, down 400.

All three levels of government squeezed payrolls in July, shedding a total of 4,900 public-sector jobs.

Private-sector industries that posted job gains were trade, transportation and utilities, with 1,600 jobs; wholesale trade, 800 jobs; education and health services, 500 jobs; and leisure and hospitality, 500 jobs.

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