Without question, 2020 was a year unlike any we’ve ever experienced.

A new report details the impact of the pandemic on the New Jersey economy, even as many businesses and some entire industries continue to struggle.

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According to Nicole Sandelier, the executive director of Focus New Jersey, a research foundation founded by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, there was a historic contraction in the state’s gross domestic product when the COVID crisis began, a large rebound soon followed, but the state would up with an overall decline of 4.1% in the annual GDP compared to 2019.

 

Unemployment rates shot to record highs in the Garden State with 1.9 million people filing at least an initial claim and $20 billion in benefit payments.

The analysis also shows Black and Hispanic workers saw higher rates of unemployment than Whites last year.

Unemployment among Hispanic workers increased to more than 23% in the second quarter compared to just below 5% in the first quarter while unemployment among Black workers increased to over 18%, compare to 7% in the first quarter.

Nearly a third of businesses were closed temporarily or permanently.

The number of small businesses open in the Garden State decreased 31.2% from January 2020 to the end of the year, and small business revenue decreased by 35.8% during the same time period.

She said because of the lockdown, social distancing and other factors, the leisure and hospitality industry was hit especially hard in Jersey. The number of workers in that industry fell from half a million to 280,000.

Despite the unemployment, personal income per capita increased by nearly $5,000 per person.

"That is due to extended unemployment benefits ... and federal stimulus dollars that hit the households of New Jerseyans throughout the state,” she said.

She said moving forward, the leisure and hospitality industry could enjoy a strong comeback in the months ahead.

“People have been at home for over a year now, individuals want to get out, they want to start spending their money, they want a sense of normalcy again,” she said. “Hopefully this ends up being a blip in time for a very bad, unprecedented year on many fronts."

You can view the full Focus New Jersey 2020 Economic Review here.

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