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Finding a job a tougher struggle in N.J.'s urban counties

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    The unemployment rate varied widely in June in northern and central New Jersey, from highs of 10.7 percent in Passaic, 10.6 percent in Essex and 10.2 percent in Hudson, to lows of 6.8 percent in Hunterdon, 7.2 percent in Morris and 7.3 percent in Somerset, according figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    New Jersey overall had an 8.7 percent jobless rate in June, compared with a national rate of 7.6 percent.

    Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research in the Roseland office of accounting and consulting firm CohnReznick, said for structural reasons, the jobless rates have for years been higher in the cities of New Jersey than in the suburbs. He said many of the jobs left the cities years ago, and many urban residents find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the labor market.

    “So in a soft jobs market, such as what we have had over the last six years now, these individuals are at a particular competitive disadvantage,” O’Keefe said.

    “In those high unemployment rate counties, there is a considerable component of the unemployment that is structural. Individuals whose ability to attach themselves to a permanent, upwardly mobile job is limited by their location, and their skills, experience and education.”

    According to BLS, the jobless rates for New Jersey counties in June included: Union, 9.2 percent; Ocean, 8.9 percent; Middlesex, 8.7 percent; Sussex, 8.5 percent; Monmouth, 8.1 percent; and Bergen, 8 percent.

    Reporter Beth Fitzgerald is @BethFitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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