March Jobs Numbers: Bad News on the ‘Comeback’ Trail

UPDATED May 11: This blog post initially said that New Jersey “was one of only eight states in the country to lose jobs in March.” That was incorrect. Twenty states lost jobs in March, and eight states saw their unemployment rates rise.

New Jersey lost 8,600 jobs in March and the state’s stubbornly high unemployment rate held steady at 9.0 percent, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It was one of 20 only eight states in the country to lose jobs in March, and the drop of 8,600 was the second-largest decline next to Ohio, which lost 9,500 jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The monthly job loss was the first New Jersey has seen in six months, giving further pause to the political mantra that a “New Jersey Comeback” has infected the state’s economy.

Meanwhile, unlike many other states, New Jersey’s unemployment rate can’t seem to fall back under 9 percent, a point it has been at or above since June 2009. The Garden State’s unemployment rate is now the sixth highest of all the states, and it is much higher than our neighbors in New York (8.5 percent), Connecticut (7.7 percent) and Pennsylvania (7.5 percent).

New Jersey’s rate remains well above than the national average, which was 8.2 percent in March. It has also dropped much less the national rate, having fallen by just 0.3 percent since March 2011, compared to a decrease of 0.7 percent for the U.S. as a whole.