From NJ Monthly:
When Governor Phil Murphy signed an unprecedented executive order in March 2020 directing New Jersey’s 9 million residents to stay home, the state’s schools and nonessential businesses to shut down, and employers to let their employees work from home if possible, O’Daniels and her colleagues worked remotely for a few weeks. Then, they were furloughed. Finally, in July, O’Daniels was laid off, and her nearly 20-year tenure in the hotel industry came to an end. Her husband, who was also working in hospitality, was laid off around the same time. “I was devastated,” she says.
Between February and April 2020, New Jersey lost jobs in all of its major private-industry sectors, and unemployment spiked from 3.8 to 16.6 percent, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By June 2020, 1.24 million New Jersey workers, or about 28 percent of the labor force, had filed for unemployment benefits, either to make up for a lost job or lost hours.
O’Daniels was able to secure a job three months later as a sales consultant for the catalog-websites Wine Enthusiast and Wine Express, in a different industry where her skills were transferable. “I sold myself,” she says of convincing the hiring manager that she was the right person for the position, even though she didn’t fit the typical mold for an employee. But not every local job seeker has been so fortunate.
Now, almost two years later, the job market and the economy are being reshaped by a global pandemic that has had unpredictable repercussions. New Jersey workers and employers continue to pick up the pieces and adapt to an ever-changing situation.
“We are going through a reset,” says James W. Hughes, dean emeritus of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and a professor at Rutgers University. “We are not going back to the old normal. We are going to the next normal. We are going to have to live with Covid-19 and its variants. It’s not going away.”