Analysis: New Jersey continues to see job growth, but overall its economic recovery has been mixed | New Jersey
(The Center Square) – New Jersey continues to post positive employment numbers, but overall the state has seen a mixed economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new analysis.
This week the Department of Labor and Human Resources Development (DOL) reported Employment gains for 12th straight month. The agency said the Garden State has recovered 561,200 of the jobs lost at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 78% of the total.
While the state’s unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 6.3% in December, it’s still above the national average of 3.9%.
“New Jersey posted another month of good job growth in December, with payrolls up 10,100,” said Charles Steindel, former New Jersey chief economist, in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative (GSI). “This was the eighth straight month that jobs have grown by at least 10,000.”
Steindel’s analysis found widespread job growth in December, but found the number of jobs in the state down 153,000 from the February 2020 peak.
Construction, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality sectors posted gains of more than 1%. Information was the only major sector to decline; employment in the public sector was “little changed”.
“A lot of the discussion has focused on the unemployment rate,” Steindel said. “Although New Jersey’s number has fallen, it remains significantly higher than the nation’s — in November, our rate was the fourth highest.
However, Steindel noted that the unemployment rate is just one way of looking at the health of the labor market. Another reason is the proportion of the working-age population that has a job.
“But New Jersey fell short there, too,” Steindel said. “We entered the pandemic in February 2020 with a larger proportion of our population than the national average works.
“The drop through May 2020 was larger here than anywhere else, and our recovery has lagged the nation since then, leaving us with a below-average number than the nation,” Steindel added. “That gap — now ½ percentage point — is much narrower than the unemployment rate gap of about 2½ percentage points, but it’s further evidence that progress here has been slower than in many other states.”