New Jersey's unemployment rate for March fell to 9 percent, the lowest it's been in nearly four years.


Private sector employment was up by 10,400 since February according to preliminary monthly data released by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics. Public sector employment dropped by 2,300 jobs with declines recorded in all three levels of government: federal, state and local. The national jobless rate for the month was 7.6 percent.

According to the data, private sector employers in New Jersey added 44,600 jobs over the past year.

Since February 2010, private sector employment is up by 127,800 jobs. "Once again, jobs and unemployment are moving in the right directions, reflecting the growing strength in the state's economy. Our labor force participation rate and employment-population rate remain well above the national averages, and higher than a year ago," said Charles Steindel, Chief Economist for the State Department of Treasury.

"When the unemployment rate drops from 9.5 percent to 9 percent in two months, it's a very encouraging sign," said Hal Wirths, State Labor Commissioner. "We have recovered more than half of the jobs now that were lost during the recession, so I think it looks like we are well on our way. That, of course is taking Sandy into account."

"We lost 155,000 jobs in November, so I don't know where we'd be without the storm hitting, but it wasn't a plus for us. Losing that amount of jobs as the recovery was starting to take hold definitely had some damaging effects to the economy."

In March, private sector job gains were posted in six of the state's nine major industry sectors. There were substantial job gains in the following sectors:

  • Leisure and Hospitality - more than 5,500
  • Education and Health Services - more than 4,000
  • Manufacturing - more than 2,900
  • Construction - more than 900
  • Other Services - more than 400
  • Financial Activities - more than 200

Job contraction occurred in information, professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities. "The leisure and hospitality sector, which was hit incredibly hard as a result of Sandy, was up, as was construction, which has always been lagging over the past couple of years, so seeing these numbers is very promising," said Wirths.