New Jersey’s employment rose modestly in March, increasing by 3,600 jobs to mark the fifth monthly increase in the last six months, according to preliminary estimates produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state’s unemployment rate ticked higher by 0.1 percentage point in March to 4.1 percent.
All of the gains for the month occurred in the private sector of the state’s economy, which added 4,400 jobs. Public sector employment was lower by 800 jobs for the month, with all of the contraction occurring at the local government level.
“A growing workforce and more private sector jobs are both positives,” said Regina Egea, president of public policy think tank Garden State Initiative. “But the lack of consistent and substantial growth in either of those categories means that New Jersey is struggling to gain traction.”
Although the New Jersey labor force increased by 7,400 in March, it remains smaller than the average labor force size in 2006, before the last recession in 2008. While trending in the right direction, New Jersey will need to add tens of thousands of new individuals to the workforce in the next few months to catch up with the growth happening around us.
Of note, New Jersey’s financial activities and information sectors are still lagging behind the national trend. The financial activities sector was unchanged in March, but has lost 5,500 jobs year over year. The information sector reported a loss of 100 jobs last month, and a loss of 3,300 jobs year over year.