From the Record:
One of every five construction jobs in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties disappeared over the past year, as building activity plummeted in the face of a recession and housing bust, federal labor officials said Wednesday.
The 21 percent drop in North Jersey construction jobs from May 2008 to May 2009 — from 32,700 to 25,800 — was a record in the 19 years that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping track, according to Martin Kohli, an economist with the BLS’s New York office.
“The housing bubble burst sooner in other parts of the country than it did here, but it seems to have come with a vengeance to Bergen, Passaic and Hudson,” Kohli said.
Even as housing construction nationwide slowed dramatically, building continued at a healthy pace in Bergen and Hudson counties until mid-2008, especially along the Hudson River waterfront. But last summer, construction fell off there as well.
Overall, Bergen, Passaic and Hudson employment shrank by 26,200 jobs, or 2.9 percent, to 884,300 jobs in May 2009. Aside from the construction losses, Bergen, Passaic also saw substantial job cuts in professional and business services, information and financial activities. The decades-long loss of factory jobs also continued.
The overall New York metropolitan area, including North Jersey, lost almost 233,000 jobs — 2.7 percent of the total — from May 2008 to May 2009.
While the job losses were painful, they were less severe than the nationwide employment contraction of 4 percent. In the region as a whole, the biggest job losses came in construction and manufacturing.
The finance sector also lost jobs, but not as many as expected, Kohli said. Financial employment declined by 4.7 percent in the New York metropolitan area as a whole, and 5.7 percent in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson.
“Last fall, we had an unprecedented financial crisis,” Kohli said. “We expected to see the bottom fall out of financial employment in the area.”