GSI Analysis: May ’23 Jobs Report – Monthly Job Gains Led by Public Sector Hiring - Garden State Initiative

GSI Analysis: May ’23 Jobs Report – Monthly Job Gains Led by Public Sector Hiring

Unemployment, Labor

GSI Analysis: May ’23 Jobs Report – Monthly Job Gains Led by Public Sector Hiring

Charles Steindel, Ph.D.   |   June 15, 2023

  • Modest private sector increase and large April number revised down
  • Unemployment rate unchanged at 3.6%, slightly above 3.7% U.S. average
  • Continued strong growth in the labor force and resident employment

On June 15th, New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued the monthly jobs report for May 2023. Dr. Charles Steindel, former Chief Economist of the State of New Jersey, analyzed the report for the Garden State Initiative:

New Jersey’s May job report was on the surface quite good, but the details are less favorable. The headline gain was 9,800, which is certainly impressive. However, more than one-third of that (3,900) was in the public sector. Moreover, the 5,900 private sector increase followed a substantial downward revision to the initial April number. Today’s reported level of private sector jobs in May is only 800 higher than the first report for April. Indeed, the overall increase for April, public and private, now stands at 9,500—strong, but well under the very impressive 15,800 initially announced.

Aside from the public sector, job gains in April were concentrated in education and health services, leisure and hospitality (still 2,600 jobs short of its pre-pandemic peak), and “other services.” Construction shed 1,300 positions, likely related in part to stresses on that sector from higher interest rates, perhaps also to an early start to the spring building season holding down the seasonally adjusted figure (before adjustment, there was an increase in construction).

The numbers on the labor force and resident employment were substantially better than the payroll figures. There was yet another large increase (17,700) in the state’s labor force. Since December New Jersey’s labor force has grown by 86,000, or 1.8%. The labor force participation rate in May was 65.2% —a ten-year high, and 2.6 percentage points above the national figure. Resident employment grew nearly as much (13,500). Of course, the labor force growing faster than employment put upward pressure on the unemployment rate, which edged up to 3.6% (under the national mark of 3.7%) from April’s 3.5%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue its monthly “State Employment and Unemployment” report on Friday, June 16th, which offers a comparison of how New Jersey is faring relative to other states.