The New Jersey economy has added jobs at a rapid pace over the past year. The state gained 67,600 jobs from October 2003 to Octo- ber 2004—a growth rate of 1.7 percent—and more than 100,000 jobs between the botoom of the employment cycle in March 2003 and October 2004. Employment in the state is now at an all-time high—40,600 jobs or 1 percent above the previous peak reached in December 2000. Nationwide, employment has grown 1.7 per- cent since its low point in August 2003, and the national employment level is still nearly half a million jobs (0.4 percent) below the peak reached in March 2001.
The relative strength of the New Jersey economy on the employment front also can be seen in the unemployment rate. The state’s unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent in August and September 2004, and fell to 4.7 percent in October, down from a peak of 6.1 percent in July 2003. In August and Sep- tember, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent, down only nine-tenths of a percentage point from the peak of 6.3 per- cent reached in June 2003, but it edged back up to 5.5 percent in October. Thus, the U.S. unemployment rate remains well above New Jersey’s rate. It is likely that the increase in the U.S. rate in October was the result of the reentry into the labor force of workers who had previously left because of weak job prospects.