Hiring is picking up somewhat. New Jersey companies added 10,700 new jobs last month, which is more than were added in the previous few months. The state has still only recovered just over half of the jobs lost in the past year. And, with many people still out of work, New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains at 7.8%. Meantime, weekly jobless claims across the U.S. fell to their lowest level since the pandemic began last year.
The U.S. economy was showing signs of life heading into this year. In the final few months of 2020, the economy, as measured by GDP, grew a better than expected 4.3%.
Housing prices continue to rise; last month, the median sales price for all properties in the state was $360,000, according to New Jersey Realtors. Prices have risen more than 21% in the past year. The reason for that is simple supply and demand — a lot of buyers but not a lot of available homes. This isn’t just a Garden State story either. Earlier this week, the National Association of Realtors said that across the U.S., the supply of homes for sale fell nearly 30% year-over-year in February, the largest annual decline ever.
The Small Business Administration is greatly increasing the amount of money small businesses and nonprofits can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Starting next month, the SBA is raising the loan limit from a maximum of $150,000 to $500,000. Businesses will also get more time to repay the loans.