FILE - NJ shops, businesses, stores, economy, tourism 7-25-2014

A row of shops are seen July 25, 2014, along Third Avenue in downtown Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

(The Center Square) – New Jersey continues to add jobs but remains below the pre-pandemic level, while its unemployment rate exceeds the national level.

Preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for October show nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey increased by 20,000. The growth marks the tenth consecutive month of gains of nonfarm jobs in the state.

However, New Jersey’s job count remains more than 200,000 under the February 2020 peak, while its workforce remains 140,700 smaller. Additionally, in October, the state’s unemployment rate was 7%, down from 7.1% in September, 2.4% higher than the national average, which fell 0.2% to 4.6%.

“The numbers on the labor force, household employment, and the unemployment rate continue to be at odds with the job figures,” Charles Steindel, the former New Jersey chief economist, said in an analysis for the Garden State Initiative (GSI). “There were some moderate gains in October in both the labor force and household employment, but both fell considerably shy of the payroll increase.”

Steindel found that job gains were broad-based across private-sector industries. 

“Professional and business services led the way, with an increase of 8,900,” Steindel said, adding that much of the gain seems to be in support services, such as janitorial and landscaping. “Leisure and hospitality added another 3,200, though that sector is still about 75,000 jobs (close to 20%) under its pre-pandemic peak.

“The other private sector with a very large gap remaining (close to 45,000) is educational and health services,” Steindel added. “The 300 jobs increase in that area in October was miniscule in both absolute terms and relative to that gap. One sector which has improved noticeably recently is construction, which added another 2,700 jobs in October and has more than reversed a drop seen in the first half of the year.”