State sees modest job growth in March, as unemployment ticks lower

New Jersey’s employment rose in March, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development said Thursday, with the unemployment rate dipping for the month.

Overall, preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that payrolls grew by 20,800 jobs, to a seasonally adjusted level of 3.897 million. That meant the unemployment rate ticked lower, to 7.7%.

Gains were concentrated in the private sector, which saw 20,000 of the gains, compared with 800 gains in public-sector employment. The state said it has now recovered about 54% of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns.

Eight of nine industry sectors saw job gains for the month, led by leisure and hospitality, which added 5,700 jobs. Only “other services” saw a loss, down 500 jobs.

February job gains were also revised slightly higher, to a total of 10,800 jobs added, from 10,700 in the preliminary estimate.