U.S. Census Bureau says New Jersey labor market shows signs of strength

New Jersey’s labor market showed signs of strength in May, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 3.5% and nonfarm employment increasing by 9,800 jobs.

The private sector added 5,900 jobs, while the public sector experienced an increase of 3,900, according to the employment and unemployment data derived from the New Jersey portion of the national Current Population Survey (CPS), a household survey conducted each month by the U.S. Census Bureau under contract with BLS, which provides input to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program.

The report shows other positive signals.

Over the past five months, the labor force participation rate has experienced continuous growth, reaching its highest level since May 2013 at 65.2 percent.

Additionally, the employment-population ratio has been on the rise, reaching its highest level since October 2008 at 62.9 percent.

In April, employment increased by 9,500, a downward revision of 6,300. Preliminary estimates indicated a gain of 15,800. The April unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent.

In May, four out of nine major private industry sectors recorded job growth, including education and health services (+5,400), other services (+1,700), leisure and hospitality (+1,500), and financial activities (+600).

Sectors that recorded a loss were construction (-1,300), professional and business services (-1,000), manufacturing (-700), and trade, transportation, and utilities (-300). The information sector was unchanged for May. Month-over-month, the state’s public sector recorded a gain of 4,400 jobs.

Over the past twelve months, New Jersey has added 93,600 nonfarm jobs. These gains were distributed across several industries, with seven out of nine private sector industries recorded a gain between May 2022 and May 2023.

These industries are education and health services (+48,200), leisure and hospitality (+22,800), trade, transportation, and utilities (+9,800), other services (+5,600), manufacturing (+2,300), construction (+2,100), and information (+300).

Losses were recorded in the professional and business services (-700) and financial activities (-400) industries. Year-over-year, the state’s public sector added 3,500 jobs.

Preliminary estimates for June will be released on July 20, 2023.

Analysts Weigh In

Analysts are cautiously optimistic about the state of New Jersey’s labor market. “The continued growth in employment and the tightening of labor market conditions are positive signs,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “However, there are some risks on the horizon, such as rising inflation and interest rates, that could dampen economic growth and hiring in the months ahead.”

“Overall, the labor market is in good shape,” said James Whelan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. “But there are still some challenges, such as the lack of skilled workers in some industries. We need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to address these challenges and keep our economy strong.”

What It Means for Job Seekers

The strong labor market is good news for job seekers in New Jersey. There are more jobs available than there are people looking for work, which gives job seekers more leverage in the negotiation process.

“The job market is very competitive right now,” said Zandi. “Job seekers need to be prepared to sell themselves and their skills to potential employers.”

“The best way to get a job is to network,” said Whelan. “Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues and let them know that you are looking for a job. You never know who might know of an opening.”

Job seekers should also be prepared to update their resumes and cover letters to reflect their skills and experience. They should also practice their interviewing skills so that they are ready to make a good impression on potential employers.

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