In Brief

22K new jobs in New Jersey in September, unemployment at 7.1%

By: - October 22, 2021 6:50 am

The state has recovered 61% of the 717,200 jobs lost during the pandemic. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

New Jersey added 21,500 jobs in September, the ninth consecutive month of gains, according to the latest job gains report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The latest gains mean New Jersey has recovered 68.1%, or 488,100, of the total 717,200 jobs lost statewide during the pandemic, the data shows.

While that lags behind the national recovery rate of 77.6%, one economist cautiously applauded the progress as “promising,” considering how badly the pandemic decimated New Jersey’s workforce.

“This is the best job growth since a year ago, so it is a promising report,” said James W. Hughes, a professor of urban planning and policy development at Rutgers University. “New Jersey was one of the hardest hit states by the economic downturn, and New York City was the hardest hit city. So we both have long roads back to full recovery.”

New York City has recovered only about half of the jobs it lost since the pandemic started.

“We’ve never had a job loss of that scale in such a short period of time. It’s not surprising it’s taking a long time to come back,” Hughes said.

New Jersey added 9,600 public-sector jobs in September, and 11,900 private-sector jobs, the data shows. The state’s unemployment rate was 7.1% for the month, down from 7.2% in August.

Hughes attributed the gains to several factors: businesses and offices reopening, the public venturing out more to shop and spend, and strong growth in e-commerce and the state’s warehouse distribution capacity.

He also pointed to places like schools and airports that entirely shut down early in the pandemic and were slow to return to normalcy.

“That employment is coming back,” Hughes said.

The recovery will likely stutter, Hughes warned. It could waver due to factors like coronavirus variants, vaccine hesitancy, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, material shortages that especially impact the construction sector, and energy price surges, he said.

“There are always speed bumps. Recovery is never smooth and even,” he said. “But those are factors that are impacting the entire country, and they’re not unique to New Jersey.”

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.