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NJ Unemployment Rate Increases to 8.2%

New Jersey private-sector employers added to their payrolls in October for the sixth consecutive month while employment in the public sector moved lower. Estimates produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey decreased by 5,200 in October to reach a seasonally adjusted level of 3,886,900.

Contraction in the public sector (-18,000) of the state’s economy outpaced gains in the private sector (+12,800). New Jersey has now regained a total of 476,300 jobs in the six months since April, or about 57% of the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic and measures taken in response to it.

The state’s unemployment rate increased by 1.5 percentage points to 8.2% due to New Jersey residents re-entering the labor force in October.

In October, employment increases were recorded in seven out of nine major private sectors. Sectors that recorded job gains include leisure and hospitality (+5,700), education and health services (+2,500), other services (+1,900), professional and business services (+1,600), manufacturing (+1,300), financial activities (+1,200), and construction (+1,100). Sectors that recorded employment losses include trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,400) and information (-100). The public sector recorded a decrease of 18,000 over the month, with the majority of the decrease coming at the local (-11,700) and federal (-4,500) government levels.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has distributed nearly $1.3 billion in FEMA benefits to 817,000 workers, and is preparing to issue a new round of these one-time payments to eligible claimants next week.

The $300 payments are a supplemental benefit for claimants who were collecting unemployment during the weeks of Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 due to COVID-19. The maximum benefit is $1,800 and is reserved for those who lost their jobs or saw their hours reduced during the specified period for a COVID-19 reason.

For the week ending Nov. 14, New Jersey saw new unemployment claims decline for the fifth straight week, to 12,986*. This represents a 38% drop from the prior week, or nearly 8,000 fewer new claims.

The Labor Department has distributed a total of $19 billion in benefits to New Jersey workers, including just under $300 million last week.

Approximately 1.8 million people have applied for unemployment since mid-March, and 1.47 million have met the monetary requirements for benefits.

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