New Jersey added thousands of jobs, began to bring down its high unemployment rate and narrowed the gap with the rest of the country, but another wave of coronavirus could halt that momentum, economists say. increase.
Employers may once again face barriers as cases rise in the Northeast, with workers worried about their safety, parents not caring for children, and retirement determined to be the best option. baby boomer generation.
“We’re struggling like everyone else,” said Ketan Shah, who plans to open a Taco Bell franchise in Jackson this week.
The Shah’s predicament comes even though the New Jersey job market is coming to an end on a better note than it started. Garden State has created nearly 200,000 jobs since his January, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 7.8% for him to 6.6% for him.
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But the economy is inextricably linked to the pandemic, and as long as the virus remains a threat, New Jersey will have no shortage of obstacles. A nurse burns out, his chain of supplies is disrupted, New York City Jobs his machine starts up, shuts down.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the virus under control and maintaining control,” Jason Abel, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, told reporters last week. “As the viral path goes, so does the economic path.”
As the end of the year approaches, New Jersey employers find themselves in a familiar predicament.
All-American Chevrolet in Middletown has four job openings: sales representative, service technician, detailer, and receptionist. These openings are partly due to retirement, said general manager Tom Cedar.
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Dealers contacted colleges, advertised on Indeed, put up signs on Highway 35, attached flyers with invoices, and talked to gregarious customers, Cedar said.
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But there are very few applicants, Cedar said, and hopes the new year will draw in more job seekers.
“A lot of times people want to start over and start over in a new year,” he said. “But I think this surge in COVID that we are seeing now could slow things down even further.”
New Jersey reported 6,505 new COVID cases on Monday, nearing the peak of 6,922 new cases reported on January 13. And health experts are closely monitoring the Omicron variant, which may be more contagious than previous strains.
The latest wave threatens to slow an economy that didn’t need further headwinds.
New Jersey’s labor market was hit twice as hard as the nation’s early in the pandemic, economists say.
At its peak in April 2020, New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 16.6%, while the national unemployment rate was 14.8%.
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But in November, the state added 25,800 jobs, according to a report from the New Jersey Department of Workforce Development. That accounted for his 12% of the national job growth for the month, well above his fair share.
A survey of employers found industry-leading professional and business services with 8,600 jobs. Trade transport and utilities he added 8,500 jobs. Education and health services added 4,200 jobs to him, according to the state.
Another survey of New Jersey households found that the unemployment rate fell from 7% to 6.6%, higher than the 4.2% in the United States.
But there are signs that the state is closing the gap with the country.
According to Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes, the U.S. regained 83% of the jobs it lost to the pandemic in November, while New Jersey regained 76% of the jobs it lost in six months. It is said that the difference is smaller than before.
“New Jersey is born like a lamb and leaves like a lion, so financially it looks like 2021 will be the year,” Hughes said. “We are starting to catch up with the country.”
Economists at the New York Federal Reserve Board say the recovery will be uneven as each sector reports its own challenges. For example, the leisure and hospitality industry suffers from high turnover, while the education and healthcare industry seeks to fill positions left by retiring older workers.
In short, they said the pandemic has forced an economic restructuring. People are moving from cities to suburbs. Employees are working from home, reducing their commute times. Employers traditionally pay more to fill low-paying jobs.
And it’s not clear how the economy will change until the virus threat subsides.
“I think we’re in a period of correction,” said New York Fed economist Richard Deitz. “And those are very, very difficult times.”
Ketan Shah does not know it.
He’s hired about 16 people for Jackson’s new Taco Bell franchise and needs about 35 more.
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He tried everything he could think of. He increased his hourly wage from his $15 to $18. Offers a $1,000 sign-on bonus. Buddy He started a program that rewards employees who refer friends. Online he posted an ad from the site on a sandwich board he placed in front of the Freehold building he owned.
Every time the Shah thinks he is making progress, he takes a step back. He recently hired two employees and only saw one leave after two weeks of training.
To open the Jackson store, he said he plans to shift employees from nine other Taco Bells, at least for the time being.
“We spoke with so many different business owners,” says Shah. “We talk to construction companies, landscapers, or gas stations. Everyone is having a hard time.”
Michael L. Diamond is a business reporter who has written on the New Jersey economy and healthcare industry for over 20 years. You can contact him at his [email protected].