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New Jersey Jobless Rate to Fall to 8.6%, State Economist Says

New Jersey’s economy may have the “best” year since 2007 as job gains in industries such as retail reduce the jobless rate to an average 8.6 percent this year, the lowest rate since March 2009, the state’s chief economist forecast.

Economic improvement in the 12th-most populous state reflects increasing personal income and the national recovery, according to a report by Charles Steindel, chief economist of the New Jersey Department of Treasury. The report, the first of its kind, was posted on the Treasury’s website last week.

“If the positive trends continue at the current pace, most companies across New Jersey’s diverse mix of industries will post moderate but noticeable job gains,” the study said.

The state will release its December employment report tomorrow. New Jersey added 10,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.2 percent from October, according to a Dec. 15 Department of Labor news release. U.S. Labor Department data released Jan. 7 showed the national unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent, from 9.8 percent a month earlier, partly because fewer people were in the labor force.

Companies in New Jersey created 10,700 jobs in the first 11 months of 2010, compared with a reduction of 115,600 during the same period in 2009, according to the Dec. 15 release.

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