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January 23, 2015

Has New Jersey finally turned the corner with its economy? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new job numbers for the month of December that showed a drop in the state’s unemployment rate to 6.2 percent -- 0.2 percent lower than in November. The unemployment rate still lags behind neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania, but it’s catching up.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 5.6 percent.

The Christie administration is understandably pleased with the announcement, noting that the rate has dropped by 3.5 percentage points since the governor took office. It also says the labor-force participation rate (the total number of people in the workforce actively looking for work) remains higher than the national average.

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, had a different take on the numbers. It said that the nation as a whole has restored 123 percent of the jobs it lost during the Great Recession; New York has rebounded with almost 200 percent of the jobs, and Pennsylvania has regained almost 100 percent of its jobs. New Jersey, however, has only regained 50 percent of its jobs, and the recovery continues to be slow. In the past year, according to NJPP, the state has only added 2,417 jobs per month. “At that rate, even Christmas 2019 looks unpromising,” said president Gordon MacInnes, in a written statement.

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