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More evidence of the pace at which New Jersey’s economic recovery has lagged behind the rest of the nation came in new employment figures released by he U.S. Census Bureau this week.
The Census’ 2011 County Business Patterns data showed that total employment rose for the first time since 2008 both nationwide and in New Jersey, but the state’s growth lagged behind that of the nation. Total paid employment in the first quarter of 2011 in New Jersey inched up by .3 percent to almost 3.38 million. That compares with a national increase of 1.3 percent.
Total employment remained below the 2007 peak of 3.64 million, representing a 7.8 percent loss in those four years, compared with the U.S. average loss of 6 percent. The number of people working in 2011 was the second-lowest, after 2010, since 1998, the Census data shows.
"This year's County Business Patterns report is the first since the most recent recession to show a reversal in the downward trend of employment,” said William Bostic, the Census Bureau's associate director for economic programs.
“The growth in employment combined with the increase in annual payroll is another indication of a recovering economy," It has been a slow recovery in some parts of New Jersey. While employment levels rose statewide between 2010 and 2011, it continued to drop in seven counties – Atlantic, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Morris, Ocean and Sussex.
In the four-year period, Warren County fared worst, with 15.2 percent fewer people employed in 2011 than in 2007. Three other counties – Atlantic, Camden and Morris – also had employment deficits of at least 10 percent during that time. In no county were more people working in 2011 than in 2007, but Salem had the smallest loss, of 1.7 percent, as well as the smallest workforce, 18,222.
More recently, the state’s employment picture has been improving, with the state Department of Labor reporting that’s New Jersey’s unemployment rate had dropped to 9 percent in March, from a recent peak of 10.3 percent in early 2010. The state’s rate was still above the national average of 7.6 percent. Several counties – Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Passaic and Salem – had unadjusted unemployment rates of more than10 percent in March, with the highest being 17 percent in Cape May.
The Census data show that not only have New Jerseyans not returned to work as quickly as Americans as a whole, but their wages have also not kept pace with the national recovery.
The state’s annual payroll rose 2.7 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $183.5 billion but remained .4 percent below the 2007 level. Nationally, the total annual pay in 2011 was 4.5 percent more than in 2010 and 2.7 percent higher than in 2007.
While employment and payroll rose in 2011, the number of business establishments continued to drop both at the state and national levels. According to the Census data, New Jersey had 226,878 businesses with at least one employee, down almost 1 percent from 2010 and 6.8 percent less than in 2007. Nationally, the number of establishments dropped .6 percent from 2010 to 2011 and was down 4.6 percent from 2007.
More information on the County Business Patterns reports is at: http://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/index.html