Employment declined in all 15 of the largest counties in New Jersey from December 2019 to December 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported July 15.
Chief Regional Economist Martin Kohli noted that Atlantic County (-12.9%), Essex County (-11.8%), and Passaic County (-10.2%) had the largest over-the-year decreases in employment.
Among the 15 largest counties in New Jersey, Middlesex County (414,200) and Bergen County (411,200) had the highest employment levels in December 2020. Altogether, New Jersey’s largest counties accounted for 90.4% of total employment within the state.
Wage levels in five of the six smaller counties were below the national average in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the report, which includes employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) for the state’s six counties with employment below 75,000.
Meanwhile, all 15 large New Jersey counties reported average weekly wage gains from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020. Ten had rates of wage gains that were above the national rate of 13.0%: Morris County saw the largest gain (+17.4%), followed by Burlington County (+16.6%) and Monmouth County (+16.0%).
Among New Jersey’s five large counties with wage gains below the national rate, increases ranged from 12.6% to 9.9%.
Weekly wages in nine of the 15 largest counties in New Jersey were above the national average of $1,339 in the fourth quarter of 2020. Average weekly wages in three of these counties ranked among the top 20 nationwide: Morris ($1,986, 12th), Somerset ($1,857, 13th) and Hudson ($1,702, 19th).
Of the six smaller counties in New Jersey—those with employment below 75,000—Hunterdon ($1,430) reported an average weekly wage above the national average of $1,339. Cape May County ($933) reported the lowest average weekly wage in the state.
When all 21 counties in New Jersey were considered, one reported average weekly wages of less than $1,000, six registered wages from $1,000 to $1,199, five had wages from $1,200 to $1,399, five had wages from $1,400 to $1,599, and four had average weekly wages above $1,600. The higher-paying counties were located in the New York metropolitan area, clustered in northern and central New Jersey, and most of the lower-paying counties were in the southern part of the state.