New Jersey’s jobs recovery from COVID has been one of the weakest in the nation. NJBIZ reports that according to Pew Charitable Trusts, there were 6.3% fewer people working than prior to the pandemic, which was the 5th worst after Rhode Island, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
There are also 287,000 fewer jobs in New Jersey, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). New Jersey has only recovered 62% of the 717,000 jobs lost during the lockdown. NJPP also found that these jobs were in industries that included “a disproportionately large share of women, people of color, young adults and low-paid workers.” Black and Hispanic workers were also much more likely to be currently unemployed. So New Jersey’s poor jobs recovery has likely increased income inequality as well.
As a result, New Jersey’s unemployment rate stands at 7.3%, also the 5th worst in the nation, and much higher than the 5.4% national average.
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bracken attributes New Jersey’s poor jobs recovery to Governor Murphy’s policies: “The governor shut down the state early on, so our businesses closed for a significant amount of time, probably longer than most states were closed. And he was very reluctant to open …” Sunlight would add that the governor hiked corporate taxes last year and extended extra unemployment benefits until September, likely keeping potential workers on the sidelines. If the jobs situation was bad, Murphy made it worse.
So what is Gov. Murphy going to do? It appears he is going to sock New Jersey’s beleaguered businesses with even more taxes to replenish – you guessed it – the state’s unemployment fund. So New Jersey businesses, many of which are desperately seeking workers, are in essence paying for those workers to remain on the sidelines. Elected leaders from both parties are calling on Murphy to use some of the billions of federal money to prevent this. But so far, no word from the governor.
Once again, Murphy appears to be looking out for his deep-pocketed, special interest pals as he runs for re-election while ignoring the businesses that keep New Jersey’s economy running and employ its workers. No wonder people, businesses and wealth continue to leave the Garden State.