Department of Labor & Workforce Development

Private-Sector Employment Dips in May


June 20, 2019

TRENTON– New Jersey employers trimmed payrolls in May while the state’s unemployment rate edged lower to 3.8 percent, according to estimates produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total nonfarm wage and salary employment decreased by 7,600 in May to reach a seasonally adjusted level of 4,193,800. The job contraction was concentrated in the private sector (-8,400) of the state’s economy.  

Looking at the longer term, over the year, May 2018 – May 2019, employment in New Jersey was higher by 45,900 jobs, with gains recorded in both the private sector (+42,000) and public sector (+3,900) of the New Jersey economy. Since February 2010 (the low point of the last recession), New Jersey’s private sector employers have added 400,700 jobs. 

Based on more complete reporting from employers, the previously released total nonfarm employment estimate for April was revised lower by 2,900 to show an over-the-month (March – April) increase of 8,900 jobs. Preliminary estimates indicated an over-the-month increase of 11,800 jobs. The state’s revised April unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.9 percent. 

In May, employment decreases were recorded in seven out of nine major private industry sectors. Industry sectors that lost jobs were professional and business services (-3,500), trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,300), education and health services (-1,900), other services (-1,400), manufacturing (-500), leisure and hospitality         (-300), and information (-100). Industry sectors that added jobs were construction (+800) and financial activities (+800). Over the month, public sector employment was higher by 800 jobs. 

Preliminary BLS data for June 2019 will be released on July 18, 2019. 


Technical NotesEstimates of industry employment and unemployment levels are arrived at through the use of two different monthly surveys. 

Industry employment data are derived through the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, a monthly survey of approximately 4,000 New Jersey business establishments conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides estimates of employment, hours, and earnings data broken down by industry for the nation as a whole, all states and most major metropolitan areas (often referred to as the “establishment” survey). 

Resident employment and unemployment data are mainly derived from the New Jersey portion of the national Current Population Survey (CPS), a household survey conducted each month by the U.S. Census Bureau under contract with BLS, which provides input to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program (often referred to as the “household” survey). 

Both industry and household estimates are revised each month based on additional information from updated survey reports compiled by the BLS. In addition, these estimates are benchmarked (revised) annually based on actual counts from New Jersey’s Unemployment Compensation Law administrative records and more complete data from all New Jersey employers. 

Effective with the release of January 2018 estimates, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program has converted to concurrent seasonal adjustment, which uses all available estimates, including those for the current month, in developing seasonal factors. Previously, the CES program developed seasonal factors once a year during the annual benchmark process.  For more information on concurrent seasonal adjustment in the CES State and Area program, see www.bls.gov/sae/saeconcurrent.htm