Over the past year, New Jersey’s employment picture has been considerably stronger than that of the nation as a whole. Although the state lost 3,600 jobs between 2002 and 2003, employment began to increase in April 2003. By January 2004, employment was only 0.7 percent below the peak reached in December 2000.
The national economy, on the other hand, lost jobs from March 2001 through August 2003. Between August 2003 and January 2004, only 13 percent of the 2.7 million jobs lost during the recession and its aftermath had been recovered. In January 2004, nationwide employment was still 1.8 percent below the peak level reached in March 2001. The national unemployment rate—at 5.6 percent in January 2004—is down only 0.7 percentage points from the peak of 6.3 percent reached in June 2003.
Continuing the trend observed through most of the period since 2000, the national rate is slightly above New Jersey’s rate, which was 5.5 percent in January 2004 (down from a peak of 6.1 percent reached in July 2003). On the other hand, national output has grown rapidly in the past year, at 3.1 percent, compared with an estimated 1.5 percent for New Jersey’s gross state product. Gross domestic product is expected to continue to expand rapidly in 2004, pushed by unusually large gains in productivity. Index: January 2000 = 1.0 The R/ECON™ forecast indicates that employ- ment will grow in New Jersey at an average annual rate of 1.3 percent (or 51,100 jobs) between 2003 and 2008, and at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent (or 50,500 jobs) between 2008 and 2023. In 2023, the state will have just over 5 mil- lion nonagricultural jobs. Although New Jersey emerged from the recent recession with less damage to its economy than that experienced by the country as a whole, the state will experience a weaker rebound from the recession. Employment growth in the United States will surpass growth in New Jersey after this year and will remain stron- ger until near the end of the forecast period.