The National unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in December 2012, a major improvement from the previous December when the national rate was at 8.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The good news of a lower unemployment rate may be something that is being celebrated nationally, but for thousands of New Jersey residents looking for jobs, it is not a reality.
After facing a major setback in late-October of 2012 with Superstorm Sandy, life is finally starting to return to normal for many. However, with that normalcy comes a reminder that the New Jersey unemployment rate is well above the national average—sitting at 9.6 percent in December 2012, according to the Asbury Park Press. Unlike the national average, New Jersey’s unemployment has grown in the past year, rising from 9 percent in December 2011. Despite the bleak sounding numbers—jobs have actually been created in the Garden State over the past couple years. In December alone there was a reported addition of 30,200 jobs from the previous month, and PolitiFact confirms that Chris Christie spoke true when he asserted that New Jersey has gained 75,000 private-sector jobs since he took office in 2010—and that assertion was before the December growth numbers were released. According to Joseph P. Seneca, an economics professor at Rutgers University, the true number of jobs added since Christie took office on January 19, 2010. With the December growth included, New Jersey has seen a growth of over 100,000 jobs since Christie’s term began.
So What Is the Issue?
Despite having the set-back of dealing with the massive destruction caused by Sandy, jobs are up in New Jersey, so why are so many still without? One of the major hurdles to face in New Jersey is the fact that much of the job growth has come in the Leisure and Hospitality sector—and many of these jobs are only seasonal. New Jersey relies heavily on its tourism industry and that means there are always plenty of hospitality jobs to go around—servers, bartenders, and other service-related jobs. According to PolitiFact, you must pair the growth being mainly in this sector with the fact that this industry has the highest proportion of its employees at minimum wage or below—for example, most servers make $2.13 per hour, meaning their actually pay is reliant solely on tips as the pay check merely covers their taxes.
The New Jersey job situation will only improve once other industries, with year-round positions, are hiring.
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Ashely Wilson is a part of a team of writers who have contributed to tons of blogs about business. Follow her @ashelymarie1985 to see what else she has to say!