(The Center Square) – Total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey increased by 10,700 in February, improving meager job growth numbers reported a month ago.
The Garden State has regained 364,000 of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That represents about 51 percent of the lost jobs.
The state’s unemployment rate for February was 7.8%, unchanged from January. The January rate was revised down by 0.1 percentage point.
“New Jersey picked up 10,700 jobs in February (12,100 in the private sector),” Charles Steindel, former state chief economist and resident scholar at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative (GSI). “That was the first meaningful gain since November. Normally, an increase of this size would be seen as fairly healthy. However, with February’s total job count still more than 350,000 under last year’s peak, it is clear that the pace of improvement needs to ramp up radically.”
Sectors that recorded employment gains included leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, education, health services and manufacturing. Sectors with job losses included construction, information and the public sector.
“Construction was the only major private sector in February to shed jobs—surely reflecting the unusually harsh weather,” Steindel added. “There was a marked 6,400 uptick in Leisure and Hospitality, but that sector remains more than 100,000 under its peak. Hopefully, the withdrawal of some restrictions on restaurants will result in continuing gains in this area.
“The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8%, with virtually no change in both the labor force and the number of employed state residents,” Steindel added. “The state’s labor force totaled a bit over 4.4 million in February. That is off 175,000 from its February 2020 level, and actually about equal to 2005-2006 levels. This is illustrative of both the impact of the pandemic and the long-term stagnation of New Jersey’s population of work force.”
In addition to the numbers for February, January employment estimates were revised downward by 100 for an increase of 800 jobs.
Employment numbers are from the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).