TRENTON – Only one employment report remains until the 2021 gubernatorial election, and the data available now is what will serve as the backdrop for upcoming debates and all the campaign announcements being released this autumn.
Until August, the state had recovered 65% of jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic, including gains every month so far in 2021, but its unemployment rate is still 7.2% .
How do these numbers compare to those in other states? Here is a summary.
New Jersey is one of 11 states that created jobs each month in 2021, in the first eight months of the year. The others are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
Jobs in New Jersey grew 3% in 2021, which ranks 18th among states.
This is partly why Rowan University political scientist Ben Dworkin said Gov. Phil Murphy was not hammered by the public despite an economy still far from fully recovering from job losses associated with the closures. and restrictions imposed at the onset of the pandemic. .
“The point is, when you talk about employment numbers and the unemployment rate, the question for people is, how is it compared to yesterday? Do I have a better chance of keeping my job or finding a job today? Dworkin said.
“For the average person in New Jersey, there are jobs available. It’s really a question of: Do you want to put yourself forward? he said. “It’s not about the ability to find a job, but do you feel secure in finding a job? COVID is overshadowing all of those employment numbers as so many people worry about whether they are returning to work. “
Almost a quarter of a million shy
In the first two months of the pandemic, March and April 2020, the number of jobs in New Jersey fell 17%, or more than 717,000 jobs.
Only nine states were more affected in percentage during those two months: Michigan, Hawaii, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In the past 16 months, from April 2020 to August 2021, New Jersey has recovered 65% of the jobs lost in those first two months of COVID. It’s a slower recovery than in 37 states but faster than in 12 states and Washington, DC
New Jersey has created 468,600 jobs, but that still leaves the state at 248,600 from its pre-pandemic peak. Only three states have an unemployment rate higher than New Jersey’s 7.2%: Nevada, New York and California. The national average is 5.2%.
“Of course, there is political exposure for Phil Murphy when the unemployment rate is this high,” Dworkin said. “Everyone in New Jersey wants a lower unemployment rate. But I don’t know to what extent this is really going to have an effect on the outcome of the elections right now. “
Utah and Idaho have more jobs now than in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. Idaho had fully recovered by December 2020, Utah last February.
Washington, DC, has only recovered 35% of its lost jobs, the worst on the list. Wyoming has the slowest recovery among the states, regaining 38%, despite the country’s second smallest loss in the first place.
Other states that have recovered a smaller share of their lost jobs than New Jersey are Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Illinois, Oklahoma, California, Virginia and Iowa.
Trends in New Jersey
Compared to February 2020, jobs in New Jersey are down 6% in the private sector and 5% in the public sector. The largest drops were recorded in leisure and hotels, down 20%; real estate and rental and leasing, down 15%; wholesale trade, down 9%; construction, down 8%; and health care and social assistance, down 7%.
The number of leisure and hospitality jobs in New Jersey, adjusted for seasonal differences, was 400,000 just before the pandemic – then hit 180,900 in June 2020, when the initial lockdowns in the first few months began to kick in. become more flexible and that restaurants were able to reopen with limited capacity.
In August, there were 319,200 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry. The declines included a 27% drop in arts, entertainment and recreation jobs, from 71,300 to 52,300, and a 19% drop in hotel and restaurant jobs, from 328,700 to 266,900.
A few areas have added jobs since February 2020, such as trade and transport, up 4%; finance and insurance, up 2%; and manufacturing of non-durable goods and professional, scientific and technical services, up 1%.
The Murphy years
Compared with January 2018, the month Murphy took office, the total number of jobs in New Jersey is down 3.7%. The private and public sectors fare in much the same way over this period, with government jobs contracting slightly more.
Thirty-six states have performed better at work since January 2018, including 15 where the number of jobs has increased. Thirteen states and Washington, DC, recorded a higher percentage of job losses than New Jersey.
Between the start of Murphy’s tenure in January 2018 and the day before the pandemic in February 2020, job growth in New Jersey had recorded 2.3%. It ranked better than 28 states and Washington, DC, but lagged behind 21 states.
Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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