New Jersey was especially hard hit by the national recession, but it is beginning to show signs of recovery. Between December 2006 and December 2010, New Jersey lost 225,800 private sector jobs, or 6.6% of the workforce. Unemployment reached its highest level in 33 years, while the housing market collapsed and State revenue declined precipitously. The magnitude of the gap in government finances created by this crisis was great. Through difficult decisions and a new focus on discipline and fiscal responsibility, New Jersey has begun to see signs of progress and recovery, and citizens are showing a renewed optimism about the direction of the State.
The State’s economy is crawling back from the severe recession of 2007 to 2009. The recovery is likely to continue unabated, but at a painfully slower pace than experienced during past economic expansions.
But job growth, while beginning to improve, has been less robust. Private employment has stabilized, which was a marked improvement from 2008-2009. New Jersey lost 108,500 private sector jobs in 2008 and 121,200 in 2009. In contrast, from January 2010-December 2010, New Jersey stemmed the loss of jobs and gained a total of 8,200 private sector jobs.
Employment did grow in a number of sectors, most notably at temporary help firms. (Growth in temporary hiring is usually regarded as a leading indicator of more permanent job gains.) Additionally, finance and health care industry employment also inched higher.
Some parts of the State have fared better than others during the slow recovery. Most notably, Passaic County saw a robust, nearly 2% increase in the number of jobs between the middle of 2009 and the middle of 2010. Among other counties with employment over 75,000, Atlantic, Mercer, Ocean, Somerset, and Union also saw job growth during that time period.
Private sector wages are finally starting to rise. State gross income and corporate business tax collections are beating the estimates in last year’s Budget, an indicator that both paychecks and profits are growing.