TRENTON – New Jersey’s economy finally has more private sector jobs than it did before the COVID pandemic struck in March 2020, though overall employment hasn’t yet fully recovered because public sector jobs are still lagging.

The monthly jobs report issued Thursday by the state labor department shows the unemployment rate steady at 3.9% in June, as the 9,800 increase in jobs last month was paired with a 15,300 increase in the size of the labor force.

The jobs increase in June included gains of 7,600 in leisure and hospitality, 4,200 in trade, transportation and utilities and 3,800 in education and health services.

However, some areas contracted, including drops of 2,700 in financial activities, 2,600 in professional and business services and 2,200 in construction.

In the first two months of the pandemic, when all but essential businesses were ordered closed, New Jersey’s economy shed 732,600 jobs – more than one of every six jobs in the state.

It has added back 717,000 jobs since bottoming out in April 2020, recording gains in all but one of the last 26 months. The preliminary job gain in June of 9,800 jobs is the smallest since last August and the third smallest monthly gain in the recovery.

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The 3,629,900 private-sector jobs in June are 8,600 higher than in February 2020.

But the 582,900 public-sector jobs in June remains 24,200 below its February 2020 level. It took until July 2020 to bottom out and has regained 57% of what it lost since them.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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