Shore Mess: Cape May unemployment hit 26.6% this April, 33.3% in Atlantic

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, N.J. – New data from the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) confirms the staggering scope of the Garden State’s COVID-19 lockdown job losses, and the early picture is grim.

Click here for a county-by-county map prepared by the NJDOL.

The state average was 15.3%, below the Great Depression’s New Jersey peak of 33% but historic nonetheless relative to recent economic downturns.

Unsurprisingly, the hardest hit counties were casino-intensive Atlantic County at 33.3% unemployment and Cape May County – home to some of the state’s most iconic beach resorts – with 26.6% unemployment. Monmouth (15.5%) and Ocean (17.3%) fared better due to their comparatively larger year-round populations.

For context, Cape May’s April unemployment rate easily surpassed the 20.9% peak unemployment rate experienced by the county during the 2008-2010 “Great Recession.”

Governor Phil Murphy gave the Jersey Shore little reason for celebration this week, expanding outdoor and indoor assembly limits but keeping restaurants closed to indoor dining and amusement parks, arcades, and waters parks shuttered.

Statewide, the least impacted New Jersey county was Mercer (10.5%), home to the state capital of Trenton and many public employees who weren’t furloughed. The bulk of New Jersey’s jobless claims were posted between mid-March and the end of April though a larger-than-normal number of new claims were received throughout the month of May.