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New Jersey’s unemployment rate declined to 4.6% in February, as employers added 25,900 jobs to their payrolls, according to preliminary estimates produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Based on more complete reporting from employers, the state’s January’s jobless number was revised downward from 5.2% to 5.1%, resulting in a 0.5 percentage point drop to February’s 4.6% unemployment rate.  The national unemployment rate fell from 4% in January to 3.8% in February.

The state Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported Thursday that New Jersey’s total nonfarm wage and salary employment reached a seasonally adjusted level of 4,154,100 with February gains concentrated mainly in the private sector. New Jersey has now recovered 658,300 jobs, or about 90% of the number lost in March and April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, employment increases were recorded in eight out of nine major private sectors. Sectors that recorded job gains included trade, transportation, and utilities (+9,000), leisure and hospitality (+5,200), education and health services (+4,300), other services (+3,100), professional and business services (+2,300), construction (+1,300), manufacturing (+800), and information (+200). Over the month, public sector employment decreased by 300 jobs.

NJBIA Director of Economic Policy Research Kyle Sullender said that while the declining number of new unemployment claims is good news, close attention must be paid to New Jersey’s labor participation rate because the size of the workforce is still about 2.4% lower than it was before the pandemic.

“This will continue to have an impact on the ability of businesses to fill open positions and meet demand for products and services,” Sullender said.

In related news, the NJDOL said Thursday it has begun scheduling in-person appointments for workers who have had trouble getting their unemployment claims paid and on March 28 will begin seeing claimants with previously scheduled appointments at select One-Stop Career Center locations. No walk-ins will be served.