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Despite an acceleration in hiring, New Jersey’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point to 4.8% in December, finishing out the year 1.5 percentage points higher than the jobless rate was at the end of 2022, state labor officials said Thursday. 

The labor force participation rate measuring the percentage of working-age people in New Jersey who have jobs or are actively looking for work, declined from 65.1% in November to 64.9% in December. This represented the fourth monthly decline in a row, officials said. 

New Jersey continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, exceeded only by California, the District of Columbia, and Nevada, according to the latest comparative data available (November) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS is scheduled to release updated data comparing the jobless rates in all 50 states next week. 

The nationwide unemployment rate for December was 3.7%. 

In New Jersey, the state gained an estimated 12,200 nonfarm jobs in December to close out 2023 with a seasonally adjusted level of 4,367,000, up 69,600 jobs from 2022. Most of the job growth for the month of December occurred in the private sector (+10,900) compared to the public sector (+1,300).   

Viewed on an annual basis, New Jersey’s private sector gained 52,400 jobs in 2023 and the public sector gained 17,200 jobs. 

In December, monthly employment gains in the private sector were concentrated in seven out of nine major private industry sectors: education and health services (+4,300), construction (+3,800), leisure and hospitality (+1,600), trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,600), manufacturing (+700), other services (+400), and information (+100). 

The only industry that recorded a loss for the month was professional and business services (-1,600); the financial activities sector was unchanged. The public sector recorded a gain of 1,300 jobs, which was mostly concentrated in local government.     

For the calendar year of 2023, 75% of jobs gains were in the private sector, with five out of nine private sector industries recording a gain between December 2022 and December 2023. Those five industries included: education and health services (+42,600), leisure and hospitality (+13,900), manufacturing (+2,400), construction (+2,300), and information (+600).  

Professional and business services (-8,500), trade, transportation, and utilities (-600), and other services (-400) recorded losses during 2023, while financial activities recorded no change.  

Previously reported preliminary nonfarm employment estimates for November saw a slight upward revision of 400 jobs for a revised October-to-November monthly gain of 4,500. Revised estimates of the unemployment rate for October remained at 4.7%.