N.J. jobless rate tops nation's for first time in nearly 3 years

N.J. jobless rate tops nation's for first time in nearly 3 years

05/17/2006 - Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey's jobless rate spiked above 5 percent in April, surpassing national unemployment numbers for the first time in 35 months, even while the state added 6,200 jobs.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in April, up from 4.5 percent in March, according to figures the Labor and Workforce Development Department released Tuesday. The data also show the largest monthly increase in new jobs in eight months.

The national jobless rate was 4.7 percent in April.

James Hughes, dean of the Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, called New Jersey's numbers "inconsistent" and "puzzling."
"This is when we throw up our hands and say, 'Wait till next month,'" he said.

Changes in the unemployment rate and the number of jobs in New Jersey do not always correlate, because the data is collected from different sources. In addition, the unemployment rate is for people who live in New Jersey, including those who work in other states, while the number of jobs comes from payroll data collected from companies operating in the state.

Acting Labor Commissioner David J. Socolow emphasized the positive, saying the number of New Jerseyans working on nonfarm payrolls reached a record-high 4,074,900 in April.

"No event occurred in our economy that would lead to an increase of this size in the unemployment rate," Socolow said. "Unexpectedly large fluctuations in the unemployment rate in one month have traditionally corrected themselves in the following months."

Hughes agreed, saying the more reliable number was the monthly survey of employers that records how many people are on the payroll.

The survey showed that private-sector jobs accounted for most of the increase, with professional and business services sectors adding 3,600 jobs for the month.

Employment in administrative, waste management and remediation services also was strong, the report showed.

Employment in information services sustained a drop of 1,300 jobs, the largest single decrease. Manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities also sustained small decreases, the report showed.

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