Nearly every New Jersey county had fewer businesses with fewer employees in 2013 than at the start of the recession, although the numbers have been rising more recently, according to the latest data.
The US Census Bureau’s recently released County Business Patterns data shows New Jersey had nearly 230,000 business establishments in 2013, employing more than 3.4 million people on March 12 of that year. Both of those numbers were about 1 percent higher than a year earlier.
However, there were still fewer businesses with fewer workers than in March 2008 — the early days of what has come to be known as the Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 in the United States.
There were still about 8,400, or 3.5 percent, fewer establishments in 2013 than five years earlier. And those businesses employed 175,000 fewer workers, or 5 percent less.
The number of workers was still more than 10 percent lower in 2013 than in the recession’s early days in Cumberland and Union counties. Only Ocean and Salem had more workers in March 2013 than in 2008. And all of New Jersey’s counties, even those two, had fewer business establishments.
New Jersey’s recovery from the recession has lagged behind that of neighboring states and the rest of the nation. The most recent employment data, for March, had the state losing 6,400 jobs. The state’s [link: http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/lwdhome/press/2015/20150416_Unemployment.html|
unemployment rate] was 6.5 percent, compared with 5.5 percent for the nation as a whole.
According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank based in Trenton, the state has recovered only 63 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession. That compares with a 133 percent recovery for the United States.
In a statement released last month on the announcement of the March jobs numbers, Jon Whiten of NJPP said, “In what is now the 5th year of an economic growth strategy focused almost exclusively on cutting taxes for businesses and awarding nearly $5.5 billion in tax subsidies to a small handful of corporations, it is clear that the state needs to chart a new course by investing in the state’s core economic assets and growing the economy from the middle out, not the top down.”
The same Census data that shows the number of businesses and employment lagging puts the total payroll for 2013 higher than in both 2012 and 2008. The estimated total payroll for New Jersey businesses for 2013 was $191 billion, including bonuses, commissions and pension payments. That was about 4 percent higher than in 2008 and about 2 percent higher than in 2012.