From the Record:
The loss of 1,300 jobs in March puts New Jersey down 1,900 jobs for the year, as even traditionally strong sectors such as health and leisure lost ground.
The state lost 600 government jobs and 700 private jobs in March, the second monthly fall in a row for the private sector, according to the monthly employment report released Thursday by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Unemployment, which stood at 7.1 percent in January and February, rose to 7.2 percent in March – above the national rate of 6.7 percent, the department reported.
Adding to the bad news, revised numbers for February showed that employment in the state fell by 1,100 more jobs than first reported, losing 4,800 instead of the previously announced 3,700 jobs.
“I think we sum up the report by saying that New Jersey’s labor market is going nowhere slowly,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting firm CohnReznick. “Nothing stands out as a reason to be optimistic about where we are going.”
The 1,900 jobs so far this year is particularly weak compared to the 18,800 jobs added in the same period in 2013. New Jersey has recovered just 93,000, or 36 percent, of the 258,000 jobs lost in the recession and its aftermath.
In comparison, New York has recovered all of the 330,000 jobs it lost in the period and added about 164,000. Connecticut has regained about half of the 119,100 jobs lost. As of March the U.S. had recovered all the private sector jobs it lost.
The only New Jersey sectors with significant advances in the first quarter were construction, trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services.
Manufacturing lost 2,100, and leisure and hospitality, normally one of the state’s strongest sectors, lost 6,500 jobs. All of the losses came in the accommodation and food services sub-sector, which includes, hotels and restaurants.
And while educational and health services, in recent years the state’s strongest sector, added 300 jobs, the health and social assistance sub-sector lost 2,600 jobs.
“It seems like somebody has hit the economic pause button,” said economist James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “The first three months of the year, have been pretty flat. I don’t think anybody really knows why. I am puzzled by it, because national growth has been okay.” So far this year the U.S. has added about 530,000 jobs.