Jersey City’s Unemployment Rate Approaches Double Digits

According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city’s unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent in February, and preliminary data shows inching even higher, to 9.6 percent, in March. Those numbers mark the highest unemployment rate the city has seen in nearly ten years — in July 1999, the rate was 10.4 percent.

The city’s rate remains higher than the national (8.1 in February, 8.5 in March) and state (8.2 in February, 8.3 in March) percentages, but it is lower than dozens of other New Jersey cities.

“Jersey City’s unemployment rate is a function of the current global recession,” Mayor Jerramiah Healy says. “Some areas of the country have double digit rates.”

Indeed, 32 municipalities across the state that have populations above 25,000 had March unemployment rates in double digits, with Trenton’s crippling 18.6 rate marking the highest. Jersey City is also faring somewhat better than most of its Hudson County neighbors: Union City clocked in at 13.1 percent, Kearny at 11.9, West New York at 10.9, North Bergen at 10.6 and Bayonne at 10.3 percent. But our neighbor to the north continues to fare well by comparison: Hoboken’s unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent.

Once again, it’s worth pointing out that the unemployment rate measurement has been criticized by some economists for being relatively narrow and not a full representation of the number of jobless citizens, as it counts as unemployed those who “do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.”

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Jon Whiten

co-founded the Jersey City Independent. He is currently the Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective.