Even in the economic downturn, New Jersey’s hospitals delivered $18.6 billion in economic activity and about 140,000 jobs in 2010.

That’s according to the 2011 N.J. Hospital Economic Impact Report produced by the New Jersey Hospital Association. The report uses data gathered from 72 acute care facilities in the Garden State and compiles their economic contributions statewide and across counties.

According to the report, New Jersey’s hospitals provided 114,000 full-time jobs last year and about 140,000 total jobs when including part-time positions.

“It’s not only about hospitals providing 24/7 health care service which we all need,” said Kerry McKean Kelly, Vice President of Communications for the New Jersey Hospital Association. “Hospitals are also a vital part of the communities they are in and they continue to provide economic stability to our state.”

That’s not to say hospitals haven’t been affected by the recession. “Some facilities have had hiring and salary freezes,” said McKean Kelly. “Many patients have been cancelling elective procedures. Hospitals also have reported an increase in uninsured patients as the economy worsened.”

But, the economic activity of hospitals across the state reached more than $18.6 billion in 2010, an increase of about $40 million compared with 2009, according to the report. “That includes $2.4 billion in services purchased from other New Jersey businesses and more than $420 million in state income taxes paid by hospital employees,” said McKean Kelly.

“In this economy, it’s all about jobs,” she said. “And hospitals play a critical role in our continued hopes of an economic recovery.”