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New Jersey’s job market swung from optimism to despair and back in 2015, ending the year on a high note, with the largest annual employment increase in 15 years.

Yet the encouraging performance will have to show continued strength if it is going to dispel the notion that the state’s economy lags the national expansion.

New Jersey added 37,800 jobs in the first five months of the year, only to lose 60 percent of them in June and July. Since then, state employment has grown by about 12,000 jobs a month, bringing the figure to 55,000 through November, the most since the 78,400 jobs created in 2000.

The state’s employment increase, by 1.38 percent, is smaller than the national employment increase of 1.64 percent so far this year. New Jersey’s jobless rate of 5.3 percent remains above the national level of 5 percent. And the state has recovered only about 78 percent of the jobs lost in the recession; the U.S. regained them more than a year ago.

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Image credit: Economics by Simon Cunningham, on Flickr.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.