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New Jersey continues to add jobs, but unemployment lags the national average

(The Center Square) – New Jersey continues to add jobs but remains below the pre-pandemic level, while its unemployment rate exceeds the national level.

Preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for October show nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey increased by 20,000. The growth marks the tenth consecutive month of gains of nonfarm jobs in the state.

However, New Jersey’s job count remains more than 200,000 under the February 2020 peak, while its workforce remains 140,700 smaller. Additionally, in October, the state’s unemployment rate was 7%, down from 7.1% in September, 2.4% higher than the national average, which fell 0.2% to 4.6%.

“The numbers on the labor force, household employment, and the unemployment rate continue to be at odds with the job figures,” Charles Steindel, the former New Jersey chief economist, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative (GSI). “There were some moderate gains in October in both the labor force and household employment, but both fell considerably shy of the payroll increase.”

Steindel found that job gains were broad-based across private-sector industries.

“Professional and business services led the way, with an increase of 8,900,” Steindel said, adding that much of the gain seems to be in support services, such as janitorial and landscaping. “Leisure and hospitality added another 3,200, though that sector is still about 75,000 jobs (close to 20%) under its pre-pandemic peak.

“The other private sector with a very large gap remaining (close to 45,000) is educational and health services,” Steindel added. “The 300 jobs increase in that area in October was miniscule in both absolute terms and relative to that gap. One sector which has improved noticeably recently is construction, which added another 2,700 jobs in October and has more than reversed a drop seen in the first half of the year.”

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Bill would allocate $25 million in federal money for New Jersey tourism

(The Center Square) – New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to allocate $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to help New Jersey’s tourism industry.

Under A-5689/S-3830, $25 million from the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund would be appropriated to the Department of State for the travel and tourism industry.

“Prior to the pandemic, New Jersey generated more than $5 billion in state and local tax revenue from tourism annually,” New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said in prepared testimony to the Senate State Government, Waging, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

Of the $25 million, $5 million would be used to market state regions within New Jersey’s overall marketing campaign. The remaining $20 million would benefit New Jersey industries and destinations, such as food and liquor establishments, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When COVID-19 caused the closure of some businesses, limited travel, and discouraged visitors, state and local tax revenue derived from tourism fell approximately 21% between 2019 and 2020,” Buteas added. “While New Jersey welcomed 84.6 million visitors in 2020, that was 27% fewer than the previous year, and visitor spending fell to its lowest level in more than a decade.”

The state Assembly approved its version of the bill in June. The original iteration of the bill would have allocated the $25 million from the General Fund.

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Feds dish out more than half a billion dollars for Hurricane Ida relief in New Jersey

(The Center Square) – The federal government has dished out more than $518 million in disaster funds to New Jersey residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

“The funding will help communities, households and businesses here in the Garden State start their recovery off on the right foot,” Patrick Cornbill, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) coordinating officer for the New Jersey disaster recovery operation, said in an announcement.

The federal outlay includes nearly $178 million in Individual Assistance (IA) grants to 35,388 homeowners and renters in 12 New Jersey counties – Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union and Warren. That number includes more than $163 million in FEMA housing grants for home repair, home replacement and rental assistance for temporary housing.

Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved 3,845 long-term, low-interest disaster loans totaling $180 million for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Garden State. Recipients can use the money to repair, rebuild or replace any disaster-damaged physical property and cover economic injury from the storms that pounded New Jersey on Sept. 1-3.

“This funding has been used to save homes and businesses across the district that would have been destroyed without it,” U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-New Jersey, said in a news release about $80 Million in money heading to his district.

New Jerseyans have until Dec. 6 to register with FEMA for federal help.