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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 2


Additional  Economic Vitality Indicators

1 - Income

3 - Productivity increasing

4 - Poverty cyclical

5 - Gross State Product (GSP) increasing

6 - Energy efficiency increasing

Unemployment

Percent of the state's total labor force unemployed: Cyclical

  Things to think about

Many European countries have unemployment rates about twice as high as ours. With financial crises in East Asia and other regions, many countries have unemployment rates higher than 20 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate averaged 4.2 percent in 1999.

Teenagers and other young people often have a harder time finding work than people of other ages, yet it is often during our younger years that we establish our work ethic and generate opportunities for the future.

Many economists consider 95 percent employment to be the maximum employment that our economy can sustain, or "full employment." When unemployment is under 5 percent, some economists believe that the tight labor market and the risk of increased inflation have the potential to send the economy into recession

Importance

This indicator measures our ability to put bread on the table and our view of self-worth. The official unemployment rate has taken on great importance with public officials because they understand that it is a fundamental measure of personal well-being. They also understand that elections can be won or lost as the rate rises or falls.

Economic

Unemployment means financial hardship for families. High unemployment is also a sign of economic stagnation for the state. Those who lack jobs are less able to buy goods and services, which also detracts from the economy.

Environmental

Lack of a job hinders our ability to care about the environment as we become necessarily preoccupied with daily survival. People with secure jobs also pay taxes that go toward cleaning up hazardous waste sites and other environmental priorities. Some of the sectors with the most job growth are in service or "thinking" sectors with work that causes less harm to the environment.

Social

Communities with high unemployment often suffer from increased rates of crime, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Some of these problems can be reduced by the creation of more jobs a solution that costs less and may work more effectively than other efforts by police, counselors, and professionals to fight these problems. Regional and ethnic disparities in unemployment rates in New Jersey may divide us as a society.

Knowledge Gaps

This indicator does not measure underemployment, a situation in which people have a job or jobs but are not challenged by their work and not encouraged to grow - nor situations where people hold undesirable jobs to make ends meet. The unemployment rate also does not measure the number of people who have given up on finding a job and have dropped out of the labor market, or who have chosen not to work for family or education reasons.

Data Source: NJ Department of Labor

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 25, 2007

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