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New Jersey’s labor participation rate increased to 64.8% in March as more New Jersey residents found jobs or entered the labor force even as layoffs continued, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Total nonfarm employment declined by 2,600 in March to a seasonally adjusted level of 4.3 million. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5%, the same as the national jobless rate.

New Jersey’s labor force participation rate rose 0.3 percentage points from 64.5% in February to 64.8% in March, the highest since July 2013, state Labor Department officials said. The latest federal data estimates there remain 268,000 job openings in New Jersey. 

February’s preliminary employment estimates, however, were revised downward to show a loss of 3,100 jobs. The earlier estimates originally had shown a gain of 4,600 jobs.  The February unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.5%.

Viewed on an annual basis, New Jersey’s employers have added 85,500 jobs over the past 12-month period, even with the loss of a combined 3,700 jobs in February and March, mostly in the professional and business services sector.

In March, four out of nine major private industry sectors experienced job growth. Sectors that recorded employment increases were leisure and hospitality (+2,100), trade, transportation, and utilities (+400), information (+400), and education and health services (+100). Sectors that recorded an over-the-month loss were professional and business services (-3,500), other services (-1,200), manufacturing (-500), financial activities (-300), and construction (-100). Month-over-month, the state’s public sector was unchanged.

Preliminary year-over-year estimates (March 2022-March 2023) show growth in New Jersey was mostly broad based, with eight out of nine major private industry sectors recording job gains. These industries are education and health services (+45,600), leisure and hospitality (+23,200), trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,500), manufacturing (+4,900), other services (+3,000), information (+2,600), construction (+2,300), and financial activities (+900).

The only private sector industry to record a loss from March 2022 and March 2023 was professional and business services (-6,200). Year-over-year, the state’s public sector added 2,600 jobs.