N.J. unemployment raise rose to 7.9 percent for January

The unemployment rate in New Jersey rose to 7.9 percent in January, up .2 percent over the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Preliminary nonfarm wage and salary estimates for January show an increase in total non-farm employment of 900 jobs over the previous month. The gains were recorded in the private sector of the state’s economy.

Industry sectors that recorded job growth for January include leisure and hospitality (+4,100), financial activities (+3,900), education and health services (+1,900), professional and business services (+1,400), other services (+800), and manufacturing (+300). Industry sectors that recorded over-the-month job losses include trade, transportation, and utilities (-7,100), information (-1,400), and construction (-600). Government employment was lower by 2,300, mainly at the local level (-2,000).

An annual review and adjustment of previously released employment data at the state and metropolitan area levels showed that the over-the-year (Dec. 2019 – Dec. 2020) change in total non-farm jobs was revised to a loss of 341,700 jobs, a greater decline than the previously reported loss of 336,400 jobs.  

Between February and April of 2020 when the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic and measures taken in response to it hit the state, revised estimates show that New Jersey lost 717,200 jobs, or 17 percent of the total number of nonfarm jobs the state had recorded in February of 2020. By comparison, previously released estimates had indicated a two-month loss of 831,800 jobs, or 19.6 percent of the state’s total nonfarm level as of February of 2020. 

Data also show that the recovery from the pandemic-induced low seen in April was less than previously estimated. The revised estimates show that between April and December of 2020, New Jersey regained a total of 352,500 jobs, or 49.1 percent of the total number of jobs lost due to the pandemic and subsequent measures taken in response to it. In comparison, the national job market has regained 55.5 percent of job losses. 

The revised data show that over the December 2019 – December 2020 period, all nine major private industry sectors of the New Jersey economy lost jobs. In order from greatest to smallest over-the-year losses, the industry sectors include leisure and hospitality (-109,200), education and health services (-61,000), trade, transportation, and utilities (-37,900), professional and business services (-31,400), other services (-31,400), manufacturing (-12,200), construction (-9,400), financial activities (-7,600), and information (-3,700). Over the year, public sector employment dropped by 37,800 jobs, with the majority of the loss at the local government level (-33,400 jobs). 

Labor force estimates for New Jersey were also revised. According to the latest data, the state averaged an annual unemployment rate for 2020 of 9.8 percent, up from 3.4 percent in 2019. New Jersey’s rate was above the annual national rate of 8.1 percent for 2020.