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Rutgers forecast: 'Sluggish' N.J. won't return to peak employment level until 2018

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Rutgers is one of the many schools ranked on the list for best return on investment.
Rutgers is one of the many schools ranked on the list for best return on investment. - ()

New Jersey is on track to add roughly 24,400 jobs at a growth rate of about 0.6 percent by the end of the year, according to a new economic forecast unveiled Friday by Rutgers Economic Advisory Service director Nancy Mantell.

Though Mantell predicts that the state will see “moderate” job growth over the next three years with approximately 136,000 newly-created positions, an overall “sluggish recovery” will hinder New Jersey from returning to its 2008 peak level of employment until early 2018.

By the end of 2024, the state’s employment base will reach 234,000 jobs over the January 2008 peak of 4.09 million jobs, according to Mantell.

But as Mantell points out, her economic forecast for the state pales in comparison to that of New Jersey’s neighbors.

“New Jersey’s slow recovery seems particularly slow in contrast to that of its neighbors, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the U.S., where the old peak was 99.9 percent recouped last month,” Mantell said. “Given its slower recovery and rate of expansion, New Jersey’s share of the nation’s job base will decline from 2.9 percent to 2.8 percent in 2024.”

According to Mantell, New Jersey’s recovery rate has been “oddly slow” since real output and real income have fully recovered in the last two years. Both are expected to rise in addition to the state’s population over the forecast period.
“The good news here is that the state will retain its position as a high-income state — good for trade and the real estate market, if not for companies looking to locate in a place with low wages,” Mantell added.

Inflation is expected to average under 2 percent through 2024, Mantell noted.

Mantell also predicts the state’s unemployment rate, which currently sits at 7.2 percent, to plummet to 5 percent near the end of the forecast period. While promising, Mantell warns that the falling rate may be attributed to a decreasing workforce.

“While the height of the unemployment rate is a challenge, the real concern is that the unemployment rate has fallen primarily because people have stopped considering themselves part of the labor force,” Mantell said.


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