The summer may be New Jersey’s best season for tourism, which is the sixth-largest private-employment sector in the state, but the Jersey Shore is not the only site attracting travelers, according to the most recent report “The Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey” from the state Division of Travel and Tourism. Including indirect jobs, the industry is responsible for 517,559 positions, or nearly one of every 10 jobs in the state.
Tourism employment grew by 1.2 percent in 2016, the report found, exceeding the number of jobs in the previous peak year of 2008, early in the recession and before Sandy. After precipitous recessionary declines to 308,801 in 2010, employment had risen steadily, but dropped again in 2014 as a result of the closure of several Atlantic City casinos.
Some positions are seasonal, catering to the throngs who spend the summer on the beaches and boardwalks. But most are year-round and jobs are spread throughout the state, as tourism plays an important part in New Jersey’s economy as a whole. Tourism jobs include those in lodging, recreation, food and beverages, air transportation, and retail sales. These are the 10 counties with the most tourism jobs:
1. Atlantic County, 48,131 jobs
The stabilization of the casino industry in Atlantic City helped New Jersey’s hands-down leader in tourism positions to add 135 jobs, the first increase in tourism-related employment since 2012.
2. Ocean County, 26,636 jobs
With the longest stretch of Atlantic Ocean beaches, Ocean has the second-largest number of tourism jobs, which grew by 2 percent over 2015.
3. Cape May County, 26,151 jobs
Tourism employment in Cape May has trailed close behind Ocean for years. That gap widened slightly in 2016, as tourism job growth in Cape May — 1.3 percent — lagged Ocean’s growth.
4. Bergen County, 24,462 jobs
Bergen is the state’s most populous county. Although it’s not a shore county, it is home to the Meadowlands entertainment complex, including the racetrack and MetLife Stadium. It was the only county where the number of tourism jobs declined, by 0.7 percent.
5. Middlesex County, 22,703 jobs
Home of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory and Rutgers University, Middlesex is also the start of the Jersey Shore: The Amboys have small sandy beachfronts. The number of tourism jobs inched up by 0.2 percent over the prior year.
6. Essex County, 22,361 jobs
The Prudential Center and NJPAC draw sports fans and concertgoers, and Newark Airport is among the nation’s 20 busiest. Tourism jobs increased by 0.8 percent.
7. Monmouth County, 22,106 jobs
The last major shore county experienced 2 percent growth in tourism jobs in 2016.
8. Morris County, 21,992 jobs
Morris is the home of revolutionary history sites and some of the state’s most beautiful open spaces in the Highlands region.
9. Hudson County, 18,496 jobs
Just across the river from New York City, the county is home to Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The number of tourism jobs rose by 1 percent.
10. Burlington County, 15,263 jobs
Stretching across the state, Burlington includes Delaware River sites, state parks, and much of the Pinelands. Its tourism jobs grew by 1.2 percent.