New Jersey's unemployment rate increased for the fifth month in a row in July to 5.2 percent. But the news was not all bad.

"We have jobs growth in New Jersey, but it continues to lag the country as a whole," economic analyst Patrick O'Keefe, of Cohn/Reznik in Roseland, said.

O'Keefe says the state only had what he describes as only incremental growth. He says we are not looking at any one industry to have provided a lot of impetus.

There were July job gains in education and healthcare, which added 1,000 jobs, financial activities, which added 800 jobs, and manufacturing, which added 900 jobs.

Construction lost 3,200 jobs, professional and business services lost 2,400 jobs, leisure and hospitality lost 1,600 jobs and the public sector lost 300 jobs.

In a defense of the July jobs statistics, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development says the state's labor force participation rate, representing the number of people employed or actively seeking work, continues to exceed the national rate, 64.1 percent versus 62.8 percent.

But O'Keefe points out that while we've seen gains, the state has still not reached it pre-recession jobs peak, dragging behind the rest of the country.

"Overall, it is a positive report, but not as strong as we would like."

He says that even after a fairly-sustained improvement month-by-month, New Jersey still has not reached its pre-recession peak.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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