In 2004, the New Jersey economy added 59,600 jobs—more than recovering the 44,000 jobs lost in the previous two years. 1,2 This is a particularly impressive performance when compared with that of the country as a whole. The nation lost 1.8 million jobs between 2001 and 2003 and recovered only 1.4 million in 2004. As of December 2004, employment in the state was at an all-time high—49,800 jobs, or 1.2 percent, above the previous peak reached in December 2000. Nationwide, em- ployment has grown 2.1 percent since its low point in May 2003, and as of January 2005, the national employment level was still 27,000 jobs (0.02 percent) below the peak reached in February 2001.
The relative strength of the New Jersey economy on the employment front also is evident when the state’s unemployment rate is compared with the rate for the coun- try as a whole. The state’s unemployment rate fell from 5.6 percent in December 2003 to 4.2 percent in December 2004. The U.S. unemployment rate decreased at a slower pace, from 5.7 percent in December 2003 to 5.4 percent in December 2004 and, further, to 5.2 percent in January 2005. Thus, at least through the end of 2004, the U.S. unemploment rate remained well above New Jersey’s rate.