Unemployment, TRANSFORMING OUR BUSINESS CLIMATE, Labor
GSI Analysis: March ’21 Jobs Report – Improvement, but a Long Recovery Ahead
20,800 jobs added in March as state remains 300,000 below pre-pandemic level
At current pace full recovery not expected until well into 2022
NJ’s 7.7% unemployment rate remains well above U.S. rate of 6.0%
Gains reported in construction and slight recovery in leisure & hospitality
National retail & manufacturing data indicate possible surge in U.S. economy
On April 15th, New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued the monthly jobs report for March 2021. Dr. Charles Steindel, former Chief Economist of the State of New Jersey and current Resident Scholar, Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College, analyzed the report for the Garden State Initiative:
New Jersey payrolls increased by 20,800 in March, which was the largest gain in six months. Still, the number of jobs in the state remains more than 300,000 under the February 2020 peak. At the March rate of gain it would be well into 2022 before the job count gets back to where it was prior to the start of the pandemic.
The details of job growth in March were quite similar to those of February (when the state added 10,800 jobs) with gains in virtually all major sectors. A particular highlight was a 3,800 increase in construction, surely reflecting a recovery in activity after February’s blizzards. Leisure and hospitality added 5,700, which is an encouraging sign, but this sector remains severely depressed.
In general, our March job numbers were roughly comparable to the national figures, which showed an increase of 916,000—our percentage increase was .5; the national one was .6. New Jersey’s labor force rose by 21,500 in March and the number of state residents employed increased by 24,600. These gains were also in line with the national results, as was the .1% decline in our unemployment rate. The big difference is in the levels of the unemployment rates: New Jersey’s 7.7% unemployment rate is substantially higher than the nation’s 6.0%.
Recent national data suggest there are reasons to anticipate a stepped-up rate of progress: Retail sales grew a truly staggering amount in March, industrial production continues to expand steadily, and new claims for unemployment insurance declined sharply in the most recent week. Looking closer to home, a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey shows that its district’s manufacturers—which would include South Jersey firms—report seeing the most favorable conditions in nearly 50 years in early April. Nonetheless, our March results indicate that we are far from out of the woods.