New Jersey has reclaimed nearly 65% of the jobs – 468,600 positions – that it lost since pandemic closures in March and April last year, according to a Sept. 16 release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That spells good news for the state that still lags behind much of the nation with one of the highest unemployment rates, hovering over 7% for months now.
Gov. Phil Murphy admitted he hopes that the end of the $300 in added weekly benefits might help chip away at that sizable pool of jobless New Jerseyans. Business owners and Republican lawmakers pinned the blame for the months of hiring shortages on that money, saying it dissuaded workers from filling the ranks at employers in the restaurant, leisure, entertainment and hospitality industries.
“I hope it helps address the labor market, the challenges that we had,” he said during a remotely-held COVID-19 press briefing on Sept. 15. “I personally think it would have perhaps a modest impact on that.”
The state’s unemployment rate stands at 7.2% as of last month, dropping down just a single notch from 7.3% in July, the federal report showed. A total of 20,300 new jobs were filled in August and 21,200 positions in July.
Widespread closures made in a bid to slow the spread of the virus saw more than 2 million people in the state file for jobless claims. With New Jersey and New York particularly devastated early on, their economies suffered some of the worst pain in the beginning of the pandemic – coupled with both states both being slow to reopen.
Federal data showed professional and business services with the largest gains at 3,700 new jobs in August, followed by education and health services with 3,100 new jobs, leisure and hospitality with 2,700 new jobs, manufacturing with 1,900 new jobs, construction with 500 new jobs and financial services with 200 new jobs.
Gains for the public and private sector were evenly split, with the sectors adding 10,100 and 10,200 new jobs, respectively.
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