(The Center Square) – New Jersey employers added 20,800 jobs in March, the largest gain in six months, but the number of jobs in the state is below the pre-pandemic level.
“Still, the number of jobs in the state remains more than 300,000 under the February 2020 peak,” Charles Steindel, New Jersey’s former chief economist and current resident scholar at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative. “At the March rate of gain it would be well into 2022 before the job count gets back to where it was prior to the start of the pandemic.”
The state’s unemployment rate in March decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 7.7%. However, it remains higher than the national rate of 6%.
The state saw job increases in eight out of nine major private sectors in the month when the state added 10,800 jobs, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development. The state numbers are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“A particular highlight was a 3,800 increase in construction, surely reflecting a recovery in activity after February’s blizzards,” Steindel said. “Leisure and hospitality added 5,700, which is an encouraging sign, but this sector remains severely depressed.
“In general, our March job numbers were roughly comparable to the national figures, which showed an increase of 916,000 – our percentage increase was .5; the national one was .6,” Steindel added. “New Jersey’s labor force rose by 21,500 in March and the number of state residents employed increased by 24,600. These gains were also in line with the national results, as was the .1% decline in our unemployment rate.”
New Jersey has recovered about 54 percent – 384,900 – of the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nonetheless, our March results indicate that we are far from out of the woods,” Steindel said.