GSI Analysis: April ’24 Jobs Report – Some April Showers Hit New Jersey’s Labor Market - Garden State Initiative

GSI Analysis: April ’24 Jobs Report – Some April Showers Hit New Jersey’s Labor Market

Unemployment, Labor

GSI Analysis: April ’24 Jobs Report – Some April Showers Hit New Jersey’s Labor Market

Charles Steindel, Ph.D.   |   May 20, 2024

  • Payrolls decline by 10,900, with March increase marked down.
  • Job losses noted in Leisure & Hospitality and Professional & Business services.
  • Unemployment rate finally edges down.

On May 16th, New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued the Monthly Jobs Report for April 2024. Dr. Charles Steindel, former Chief Economist of the State of New Jersey, analyzed the report for the Garden State Initiative:

April was yet another mixed month for the state’s labor market. The number of jobs fell a stiff 10,900, which was the largest decline since last July. Moreover, the large increase initially reported for March was pared from 13,800 to 12,500. By sector, April’s losses were centered in leisure and hospitality, which was down a sharp 8,900 (more than 2%). It’s hard to explain such a large decline; conceivably there may have been some difficulty adjusting for the rather early date of Easter (before seasonal adjustment leisure and hospitality jobs actually rose 5,600). Professional and business services also had a pronounced decline (2,600). Like leisure and hospitality, it’s possible some of the reported loss was an artifact of problems with seasonally adjustment of the raw numbers. Before seasonal adjustment, jobs in this sector, which includes support services such as landscaping, had an increase of 7,600. However, while some of the state’s losses could reflect technical factors, and might be reversed quickly, increases in other areas were far from sufficient to offset much of these. For instance, construction was up, but by only 300.

The numbers on unemployment were a welcome contrast. After a wrenching seven straight months at 4.8%, the unemployment rate inched down to 4.7% (the actual drop was on the order of .05%–the March number was actually only a bit more than 4.75%, while April was a touch under 4.7%). While the decline was minute, it was generated in a good way: household employment rose 7,200, and the labor force increased 4,300.

For quite a few months there has been a marked divergence between the state’s payroll numbers and the count of residents at work, with the payroll figures being much stronger. April reversed a small part of this, unfortunately, the drop in payrolls accounted for most of the correction. Hopefully, April’s weakness in jobs owed a lot to the technical issues mentioned, but at the moment this part of the report—the part usually considered the better barometer of current conditions—was pretty glum.