Nearly 18 months after the coronavirus pandemic led to sudden business closures and skyrocketing unemployment, New Jersey has regained all of the private sector jobs it lost in March and April 2020.

New Jersey added 9,800 jobs in June when the unemployment rate remained at 3.9%, the Labor Department announced Thursday. The national unemployment rate is 3.6%.

A year ago, New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 7.1%.

The state has clawed back the 702,000 private sector jobs lost in the first months of the pandemic at a historically rapid pace, economists say.

“During the summer months we are seeing a lot of jobs coming back, especially with seasonal hiring, and restaurants and businesses are gearing up for the year,” said Robert Scott, an economist at Monmouth University. . “Generally that’s a good thing, but one of the big questions, of course, is what kind of jobs are being filled.”

Charles Steindel, former chief economist for New Jersey’s Treasury, analyzed the jobs report from conservative think tank Garden State Initiative and said in a statement that New Jersey’s workforce, despite keeps bouncing, stays dull.

Despite gains in recent months, the size of the state’s total labor force is 38,500 lower than last June’s figure, Steindel noted.

Economists can use monthly jobs reports as an economic indicator — and lately, Scott said, as an indicator of a potential recession. Scott finds no major red flags in this month’s jobs report, but said it would be a “duck-and-hedge moment” if companies start laying off workers.

David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs told CNN this week he thinks the chances of a recession are high. Citigroup economists estimate a 50% probability of an economic crisis. UBS assesses the chance of a recession in the United States at 40%.

How things are in New Jersey

New Jersey added jobs in five of nine private sectors, according to the Department of Labor. Most notably, the leisure and hospitality industry – one of the hardest hit industries due to the 2020 pandemic regulations – added 7,600 jobs last month.

Commerce, transport and public services created 4,200 jobs, while education and health services added 3,800 jobs, according to the report. Meanwhile, the construction industry, the financial activities sector, and professional and business services all saw job losses.

New Jersey’s public sector added just 200 jobs last month. This industry takes longer to recover than the private sector, Smith said, in part because hiring for positions with stronger job security and benefits can take longer.

Scott warned that he expects the summer to be a peak before a potential recession hits.

“Is that kind of a pink dot where you’re looking down from the cliff and we’re about to fall? I would say there is a good chance,” he said. “It’s a spike, and we’re going to start seeing unemployment rise again as we head into the fall. I would be shocked if that didn’t happen.

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