Job Watch: State May Experience Second Consecutive “Lost Decade”

Featured, Jobs Watch, Policy — By on August 18, 2010 at 6:37 PM

The latest employment data offer further evidence that New Jersey’s job recovery will be slow and suffer intermittent setbacks. The numbers also show the Garden State may incur a second-straight decade of stagnant job growth.

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The Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s  preliminary July data show New Jersey’s economy lost 21,200 nonfarm jobs over the month. Of these, 3,100 were in the private sector with the heaviest losses in construction (-1,700) and professional and business services (-2,300). Public sector job losses were headlined by the shedding of 14,700  local government jobs. For the month, the unemployment rate ticked upward to 9.7%. That percentage increase was tempered because the labor force shrank by 23,000 people.

Within the private sector, the story of this recession remains unchanged. The construction and manufacturing sectors have lost 41,000 and 49,000 jobs respectively from their January 2008 pre-recession peaks. The private sector has lost 237,500 jobs over the same time.

The most-recent trend offers mixed news for out-of-work New Jerseyans. The good news is that the pattern since the second half of 2009 has been one of slowing losses and occasional net job gain. The bad news is the long-term implications of a slow recovery coming on the heels of the slower-than-ordinary recovery that took place during the mid-2000s. Between 1994 and 2000, New Jersey experienced private-sector growth averaging nearly 70,000 jobs annually. However, two recessions combined to cause the state to close the 2000s with fewer private-sector jobs than when the decade began.

Many economic forecasters believe a firm recovery will be similar to the one in the mid-2000s, in which the state added just 30,000 private-sector jobs annually, and that it will begin in 2012. In that scenario, it will take New Jersey’s economy until 2019 to have as many private-sector jobs as it did in 2000.

*Note: July 2010 job figures are still preliminary, and will be revised when new data is released on September 15, 2010.
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