New Jersey Unemployment Falls to 5.1 Percent, Within 0.1 Percent of National Rate

New Jersey’s private sector employers reported another month of solid growth in December, adding 12,500 jobs to bring the total private sector employment increase for 2015 to 64,500 jobs.  This affirms 2015 as the strongest year of private sector job growth in 15 years and the sixth consecutive year of private sector growth in the Garden State, according to preliminary monthly data released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

New Jersey’s unemployment rate continued to tumble, dropping by 0.3 percentage points in December to 5.1 percent, off the national rate by 0.1 percent and down 4.7 percentage points since the recessionary high of 9.8 percent in January 2010. Total nonfarm employment rose by 13,300 jobs over the month to reach a seasonally adjusted total of 4,047,500 as measured by the BLS through its monthly employer survey. The number of residents reporting to have jobs in New Jersey reached an historic level for the fourth time in 2015, climbing to an all-time high of 4,332,900 in December after reaching a record 4,300,700 in November, according to the BLS household survey.

“New Jersey rings out the old year on a very high note, capping a year of the strongest job growth in 15 years and a sustained period since 2010 of the most robust private sector job growth since the turn of the century,” said James Wooster, Chief Economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury.  “With the substantial job gains of December, the year 2015 has added more jobs than in any other year since the employment recovery began in 2010.  In fact, 2015 comes very close to meeting the record for employment gains in the 21rst century.  With these gains and with the unemployment rate hitting the lowest levels since before the recession, the Garden State begins the new year on a very strong economic foundation.”

Since February 2010, the recessionary low point of private sector employment in the state, private sector employers have added 233,500 jobs. The labor force participation rate, which measures the number of people employed or actively seeking work, rose for a second month, up by 0.3 points to 64.1 percent and continues to best the national rate of 62.6 percent.

In December, private sector job growth was posted in six of nine major industry sectors. Industries that recorded employment gains included professional and business services (+6,700), trade, transportation and utilities (+2,400), other services (+2,400), education and health services (+1,800), construction (+700) and manufacturing (+200). Sectors that experienced contraction were information (-800), financial activities (-600) and leisure and hospitality (-300). The public sector recorded a gain of 800.

Based on more complete reporting by employers, previously released estimates for November were revised down by 3,100 to show an over-the-month gain of 4,800 jobs that month. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month gain of 7,900.


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