By Kyle Sullender, Executive Director of Focus NJ August 1, 2022
Employment in the New Jersey has increased for 18 consecutive months from May 2022, but not all industries have benefited equally.
USE. As of March 2020, there were approximately 4.19 million non-farm employees in the Garden State. That number hit 3.50 million the following month as the COVID-19 pandemic and related trade restrictions pushed thousands out of work.
Fortunately, non-farm employment has increased every month in 2021 and throughout the first half of 2022. Preliminary estimates for May 2022 put the total number of non-farm employment in New Jersey at around 4.20 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, while the employment-to-population ratio (the ratio of employed residents to the state’s total population) hasn’t necessarily increased every month, it hit its highest level since March 2020 in May (60 .3%).
EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY. Most of New Jersey’s major industries hadn’t quite reached their pre-pandemic employment levels by the end of 2021, though some were much closer than others. At the end of the year, employment was down -6.7% from March 2020 in leisure and hospitality, -4.2% in administration and around -3% in education and health services.
The state’s third-largest employer, business and professional services, was the only sector to see employment significantly surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. increased to almost 705,000 workers in December 2021, an increase of around 2.7% compared to March 2020.
New Jersey’s largest employing industry – commerce, transportation and utilities – ended the year about 1% below its pre-pandemic level, but still accounted for nearly 22% of employment the state’s total nonfarm. Employment in the industry surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time in February 2022 and continued to grow monthly before experiencing a slight decline last May.
Despite its losses, education and health services were New Jersey’s second largest industry of employers last year, accounting for 17.2% of total nonfarm employment. Government ranked fourth with 14.3%, followed by leisure and hospitality (8.2%), financial activities (6.2%) and manufacturing (6%).
ECONOMIC REVIEW. These and other measures of New Jersey’s economic health and well-being were included in Focus NJ’s recently released 2021 Economic Review. The review is intended to provide readers with a detailed look at the state’s economic indicators and is available now at FocusNJ.org.