Thursday, October 30th, 2014
False
Bollwage
"Our jobless rate, our unemployment rate, is the lowest of all of the big cities in New Jersey."

Chris Bollwage on Sunday, January 15th, 2012 in a speech at the Cuban Club in Elizabeth

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage claims his city has lowest unemployment rate among large New Jersey cities

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage speaks at the Cuban Club on Jan. 15.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage knows what his critics will say during his re-election campaign: he's been in charge too long.

But Bollwage, a Democrat whose fifth term ends this year, has a few reasons voters should keep him in office.

"And we're moving in the right direction, the city of Elizabeth. We've done a lot of big things, with Ikea, Jersey Gardens, and we have opportunities here in our community. Our jobless rate, our unemployment rate, is the lowest of  all of the big cities in New Jersey," Bollwage said during a Jan. 15 speech at the Cuban Club, drawing applause from his audience. "That's a great testament to our community."

You may want to hold back your applause, though, because the mayor is wrong.

A reader asked PolitiFact New Jersey to check out Bollwage’s claim. We found Elizabeth’s unemployment rate stands at 11.9 percent, according to the most recent data available from the state’s Labor Department. Newark’s and Paterson’s jobless rates are bleaker,  at 14.1 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively.

But Jersey City -- the second most populous city in the state behind Newark -- has an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.

So, among that group of cities with a population of more than 100,000, Elizabeth is third, not last.

City spokesman William Reyes said Bollwage meant to say Elizabeth has one of the lowest, not the lowest, unemployment rates among New Jersey’s most populous cities.

In his State of the City address, which Bollwage delivered before he gave the speech at the Cuban Club, the mayor got it right: "Our unemployment rate is among the lowest of New Jersey’s largest cities and we are looking to reduce that even more." A chart Reyes sent us that was shown during the mayor’s address compared the unemployment rates in Elizabeth, Trenton, Newark, Paterson and Camden.

Of those cities, Camden has the highest unemployment rate, at 18.8 percent, and Elizabeth had the lowest, at 11.9 percent. Jersey City wasn’t included.
 

Here’s a breakdown of the unemployment rates in New Jersey’s 15 most populous municipalities:

Population

City

Unemployment Rate: Nov. 2011

Unemployment Rate: Nov. 2010

277140

Newark

14.1

14.5

247597

Jersey City

10.2

10.9

146199

Paterson

15.4

14.5

124969

Elizabeth

11.9

11.8

99967

Edison

7

6.8

99585

Woodbridge

7.9

8.6

92843

Lakewood

8.8

9.1

91239

Toms River

9.5

9.2

88464

Hamilton

7.4

7.6

84913

Trenton

12.7

12.5

84136

Clifton

9.5

9.7

77344

Camden

18.8

18.9

75072

Brick

9.4

9.3

71045

Cherry Hill

6.9

6.9

69781

Passaic

12.6

11.6

*Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and New Jersey Labor Department


Our ruling

The Elizabeth mayor said in an appearance at  the Cuban Club that the city has the lowest unemployment rate among New Jersey’s biggest cities.

Among cities with populations of 100,000 or more, Jersey City has a lower unemployment rate than Elizabeth.

A city spokesman said Bollwage meant to say Elizabeth had one of the lowest, not the lowest, jobless rates among the state’s most populous cities -- a line he used in his State of the City address earlier this month.

He may have got it right then, but he got it wrong this time around.

We rate the statement False.

To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.