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General Business

Which Industries Benefited Most from Recent Job Gains?

Employment in New Jersey has increased for 18 consecutive months as of May 2022, but not all industries have benefited equally.

EMPLOYMENT. In March 2020, there were approximately 4.19 million nonfarm employees in the Garden State. That number cratered to 3.50 million the following month as the COVID-19 pandemic and related business restrictions pushed thousands of people out of work.

Fortunately, nonfarm employment grew every month in 2021 and throughout the first half of 2022. Preliminary estimates for May 2022 place total nonfarm employment in New Jersey around 4.20 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, while the employment-to-population ratio (the ratio of employed residents relative to the state’s total population) hasn’t necessarily increased each month, it reached its highest level since March 2020 in May (60.3%).

EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY. Most major industries in New Jersey hadn’t quite reached their pre-pandemic employment levels by the conclusion of 2021, though some were much closer than others. By year’s end, employment was down -6.7% compared to March 2020 in leisure and hospitality, -4.2% in government, and approximately -3% in education and health services.

The state’s third-largest employer industry, business and professional services, was the sole industry to see employment significantly surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. Employment in the industry grew to nearly 705,000 workers in December 2021, an increase of approximately 2.7% compared to March 2020.

New Jersey’s largest employer industry – trade, transportation and utilities – ended the year roughly 1% smaller than its pre-pandemic level, but still accounted for nearly 22% of the state’s total nonfarm employment. Employment in the industry surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time in February 2022 and continued to grow each month before experiencing a slight drop this past May.

Despite its losses, education and health services was the second-largest employer industry in New Jersey last year, accounting for 17.2% of total nonfarm employment. Government ranked fourth with 14.3%, followed by leisure and hospitality (8.2%), financial activities (6.2%), and manufacturing (6%).

ECONOMIC REVIEW. These and other measures of New Jersey’s economic health and wellbeing have been included in Focus NJ’s recently released 2021 Economic Review. The review is intended to provide readers with a detailed look at the state’s economic indicators and is available now at

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