New Jersey lagged behind its neighbors throughout the economic recovery in regaining private-sector jobs lost from the recession, but its recent employment growth has begun to outpace other states, according to a Rutgers University economist.
According to a report today released by Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School, between February 2010 and June 2012, New Jersey has recovered 89,700 of the 248,200 private-sector jobs lost during the recession, while Pennsylvania has recovered 174,300 of 262,100 jobs it lost. New York has completely recovered the 248,200 jobs it shed, and added an additional 18,000 jobs.
"During the recovery, Pennsylvania was boosted by fracking and natural gas, and New York benefited from large amounts of federal support to avoid a crisis in the financial sector, as well as its ability to attract international tourism and recreation," said Bloustein economist Joseph J. Seneca, an author of the report.
While the Garden State had no such economic driver, "New Jersey just saw strong growth in the education, health, leisure and hospitality, and professional business services sectors, and those areas of solid job growth have allowed it to gain almost as many jobs in the past six months as it had added in 2011."
According to the report, while Pennsylvania and New York greatly outpaced the nation's 49.3 percent employment recovery rate, New Jersey's recovery rate fell behind, at 36.1 percent. But Seneca said the state recently surpassed the national employment growth rate of 0.9 percent, which should boost its ranking in future employment reports.
"I think New Jersey will accelerate in job growth going forward, but the larger concern is what could happen in the national economy," Seneca said, citing the looming fiscal cliff if the George Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire and gross domestic product growth continues to slow. "The recent job growth is encouraging, given the context of employers' concerns and the whole portfolio of things that affect private-sector investments. To get to full employment recovery in the state, the key will be keeping a competitive tax structure in place and sustaining fiscal discipline long term. It's become clear that there's no quick fix to the problem."