The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that New Jersey’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6 percent in May, the lowest it's been since May 2008, during the depths of the economic recession.
The number of unemployed residents in New Jersey has fallen below 300,000 (296,00) for the first time since that date, and the state has added 20,100 jobs so far this year. According to the governor’s office, which hailed the low rate, the state has added 141,900 private-sector jobs since February 2010.
Not so fast, however, said Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank. While it's good news, New Jersey’s rate of 6.6 percent is still higher than the national rate of 6.1 percent. What’s more, said MacInnes, the state still lags its neighbors New York and Pennsylvania in adding jobs.
New Jersey has recovered 45 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession -- and the differential is due to people giving up on looking, MacInnes said. New York, on the other hand, has recovered 183 percent of its jobs and Pennsylvania has recovered 93 percent. The nation is now at 105 percent of jobs that it had before the recession.