Nearly 16 percent of New Jersey workers wanted a full-time job but did not get one last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Monday.
Counting unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers, that overall figure was much bleaker than New Jersey’s traditionally measured unemployment rate of 9.1 percent in April.
The alternate measure of joblessness even surpasses regional unemployment rates of 12.4 percent in Atlantic, 13.5 percent in Cape May, 13.2 percent in Cumberland, and 9.8 percent in Ocean counties in April.
Much of the difference is because nearly 232,000 New Jersey residents worked part-time jobs in 2011 because they were unable to find full-time employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
This segment of the work force, which is excluded from official unemployment calculations, more than doubled since 2007, federal data show. And it remains a struggling factor for the economy as businesses cut back employee hours or hire part-time help rather than full-time workers.
“Their hours were cut back for economic reasons typically because there wasn’t enough business. Those people are not getting back to the hours they had before the recession struck,” said Martin Kohli, a regional economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other workers not counted as unemployed include long-term discouraged workers frustrated with job hunting and those who wanted to work but couldn’t seek work for family or other reasons.
New Jersey had the nation’s 16th-highest rate of combined unemployment and labor underutilization last year, according to federal data.
The national average showed slight improvement from 2009 to 2011.
Meanwhile, New Jersey’s average crept up about 1 percentage point during that time.
Nevada had the country’s highest rate at 23 percent. Pennsylvania’s rate was 14 percent; New York, 14 percent; and Delaware, 13 percent.
“There were big increases in 2008 and 2009 in New Jersey and the nation when the recession hit,” Kohli said.
“A lot of people think the government doesn’t count discouraged workers. Part of the reason we do this is to show we are counting discouraged workers. Also, the people who are underemployed are a much larger group than discouraged workers,” Kohli said.
The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University published a survey in September indicating the unemployed have grown more pessimistic about hope for an economic recovery since 2009.
Of the unemployed surveyed who later got jobs, only 57 percent said they expected the jobs to become permanent positions. This affected their thoughts of job prospects and job security.
Traditional monthly unemployment figures exclude those who did not actively seek work in the past few weeks and those who did any amount of work for pay.
These categories can make a big difference when showing the scope of the employment picture.
Unemployment, underemployment and categories of discouraged workers represented 16 percent of the state labor market in 2011, up from 9.5 percent in 2008.
Meanwhile, the average official unemployment rate in New Jersey has steadily increased in the past few years — from 5.4 percent in 2008 to 9.4 percent in 2011, according to federal data.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will release statewide unemployment data for May on Thursday.
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