Unlike neighboring states and the rest of the country, New Jersey still hasn't recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession that ended in 2009.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The state announced on Thursday that total employment surpassed 4 million in April, reaching its highest level since October 2008. However, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, the Garden State has regained just 68 percent of the quarter-million jobs lost during the economic downturn.

The U.S. as a whole, along with New York and Pennsylvania, NJPP said, has recovered all jobs and then some.

James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, said he expected New Jersey to lag in recovery, but not this badly.

Some factors at play were quick-hitters, such as Superstorm Sandy and the shutdown of four Atlantic City casinos in one year's time.

But other factors, such as the gradual drop in demand for suburban office space, may hurt New Jersey for the long haul.

"Many companies now don't want to be in insulated office parks and the like," Hughes said. "Many office tenants want to be in places where there's mass transit, walkable downtowns and the like."

Suburban office buildings were an economic specialization for New Jersey in the mid-1980s and 1990s.

Hughes also pointed to the high cost of doing business in New Jersey. The state ranked dead last in the 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index from the Tax Foundation.

According to Hughes, New Jersey has the potential to recover all lost jobs by the end of 2017, 10 years since the recession began.

"If we can get back up to 40,000 jobs per year, then we'll make the recovery," he said.

The latest numbers from the state reported a gain of 39,900 jobs from April 2014 to April 2015.