New Jersey’s job market has recovered impressively in the second quarter, setting new records for monthly job growth, but its re-employment rate is behind the national average even though many states are seeing a surge in coronavirus infections.

That’s according to the latest Rutgers Regional Report by economist and professor James Hughes, former New Jersey deputy Labor commissioner Connie Hughes, and professor emeritus Joseph Seneca.

Total employment in the Garden State grew by 219,800 jobs in May and June as the state reopened its economy, a 6.4% increase that beat the national growth rate of 5.4%. But it was not enough to offset the 756,000 jobs lost in April, the first full month of the state’s lockdown.

“This stronger bounce back is not surprising, since New Jersey (along with New York) suffered disproportionately during the February-to-April contraction,” the report states. “The private sector (+228,000 jobs or +8.1%) accounted for all of the growth since government employment continued to contract (-8,200 jobs or -1.4%).”

Nevertheless, New Jersey’s overall re-employment rate (the share of lost jobs that have been refilled) is 26.4% of the 831,300 it has lost since the beginning of the pandemic. Nationally, 33.8% of jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered.

“Like the national pattern, the main growth sectors were those that had been hardest hit during the stay-at-home economic lockdown imposed to counteract the public health damages of the coronavirus,” the report says.

The rebound was led by accommodation and food services (+62,700 jobs or +50.4%), healthcare and social assistance (+37,000 jobs or +7.3%) and retail trade (+32,100 jobs or +8.8%). These three sectors combined (131,800 jobs) accounted for 60% of the 219,800 jobs gained in May and June.

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