New Jersey's unemployment rate dropped again last month, albeit marginally, from 6.9 percent in April to 6.8 in May, according to the latest report from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
It marks the lowest point for the state’s unemployment rate since November 2008.
However, the state also saw a decrease in job growth last month, losing a reported 1,500 jobs, of which 1,300 were public-sector positions.
According to the department, that blow is slightly lessened by a revision to April’s data indicating that 8,200 total public- and private-sector jobs were created that month as opposed to the 4,500 that were reported.
“While not every month sees a gain, the job situation seems to be gradually improving with the noticeably upward revision in the April numbers and the survey of households showing pretty impressive gains,” state Department of Treasury Chief Economist Charles Steindel said. “Nearly 30,000 more state residents were reported to be working in May than in March and the total count of residents at work is the highest since the start of 2009. The two month gain in the labor force is also pretty strong, nearly 15,000.”
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But Gordon MacInnes, president of liberal think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, says that in order for the state to return to pre-recession employment levels with population growth accounted for by May 2017, it would need to add roughly 150,000 new jobs each year, or some 12,000 each month on a consistent basis.
“Clearly what New Jersey’s policymakers have been doing for close to five years — reducing taxes for businesses while awarding billions of dollars of tax subsidies on top of those cuts — is not working,” MacInnes said. “It’s time for a new approach that takes into consideration the true drivers of economic prosperity — our public assets — and maintains and expands investment in them. This would be a much more sound approach than continuing down the tax-cutting path.”
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