August 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM
UNION COUNTY, NJ – Wages across the U.S. have been growing, and a survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that Union County is among the leaders in this trend.
According to the BLS County Employment and Wages 2013 fourth quarter survey released earlier this summer, Union County led the 15 largest counties in New Jersey in wage growth with a 5.2 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013. The survey included the 335 largest counties in the U.S. by population.
The 5.2 percent growth also earned Union County the fourth-place ranking among all 335 counties surveyed.
“The latest BLS report on wages is a positive indication that our investments in economic development and workforce initiatives have positioned Union County residents to take advantage of improvements in the national economy,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak. “We will continue to build on this record with new programs to educate and train a competitive workforce.”
“Union County’s targeted workforce training programs are designed to enable our residents to build careers with up-to-date skills that match the demands of today’s job market,” said Freeholder Sergio Granados, who is the Freeholder Board’s liaison to the Union County Workforce Investment Board (WIB). “I strongly believe in empowering individuals through education, and it is gratifying to see the recommendations of WIB reflected positively in a national survey.”
WIB is a consortium of stakeholders from private, public, academic and nonprofit sectors in Union County. The WIB mission is to promote economic development by investing resources in training County residents for high-growth sectors of the economy.
Those sectors include the transportation, logistics and distribution field as well as health care, financial services, life sciences, leisure, hospitality and retail, advanced manufacturing and technology, and entrepreneurship.
Other parts of the workforce support infrastructure in Union County include the County’s One-Stop Career Centers. Among other services, the One-Stops train, screen, and match jobseekers with employers.
County workforce development efforts are informed by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University, which provides a knowledge base for attracting and keeping high-demand jobs.
Union County’s educational infrastructure has also been updated to keep pace with current demands. Among other recent improvements is an expansion of the Vo-Tech High School at the Union County Vo-Tech Schools campus. The expanded West Hall facility will serve 300 students training in high demand fields.
Approximately two-thirds of the Union County workforce is employed outside of Union County, so transportation improvements are another key part of the Freeholder Board’s economic development programs. One recent example is the launch of new one-seat ride service on the NJ Transit Raritan Valley rail line this year, which the Freeholder Board supported as part of Chairman Hudak’s 2014 initiatives.
According to recent BLS statistics, the unemployment rate in Union County has been following the post-crash recovery trend in New Jersey. Union County’s unemployment rate stood at 6.6 percent in June 2014, just above the New Jersey average of 6.5 percent. Preliminary BLS statistics for July 2014 show a further improvement in Union County, to 6.5 percent.