Economic news bleak in New Jersey

New Jersey's unemployment rate inched downone-tenth of a point to 5.3 percent in June, but the state lost more than 4,000 jobs.

All the job losses occurred in the private sector, which decreased by 4,100 jobs, according to the state Labor and Workforce Development Department. Public sector employment gained 100 jobs during June.

With jobs in short supply, temporary agencies are seeing a surge of people desperate for work.

"There [are] definitely a lot more people ? coming to our office lately,? says Heather Brown of Snelling Personnel Services, a temp agency. ?All different levels from executives ? all the way down to someone that's a ticketer or laborer.?

The state?s Labor Department reports that New Jersey has lost more than 14,000 jobs in the first half of the year. While the majority of jobs lost were in manufacturing, a state unemployment report indicates that many retailers are also handing out pink slips.

While New Jersey's unemployment rate is still below the national rate, Brown says she is hearing many stories of people desperate for work.

"There [are] a lot of people who come in or sometimes crying on the phone because they are out of a job,? Brown says. ?Unemployment is running out or has already run out and especially with the people who are the main bread winners.?

And it looks as though things will get worse before they get better.

A Rutgers University study predicts more than 20,000 people will be out of work in the Garden State before an economic turnaround. Economists predict the state won't reach bottom until 2010.

Most of June's employment loss came in the manufacturing sector, the state reported, which can be partly attributed to the decrease in demand for building products and home furnishings that are a result of the slow housing market. The sector lost 2,600 jobs inJune.

The state also cited the closure of Jevic Transportation, a trucking company, which resulted in the loss of 1,000 jobs.

According to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the loss of jobs brings an end to the state's employment expansion, which began in March of 2003 and presumably ended in December.

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