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Editorial: Who gets credit for the new jobs? Who cares?

Gov. Chris Christie talks about New Jersey's job gains recently at the LG Electronics USA headquarters in Englewood Cliffs.
Gov. Chris Christie talks about New Jersey's job gains recently at the LG Electronics USA headquarters in Englewood Cliffs. - ()

Rich or poor, as the saying goes, it's nice to have money. And jobs — which appear to be growing in New Jersey.

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie trumpeted new federal statistics showing 60,800 new private-sector jobs were created in New Jersey in 2016 — four times more than initial estimates and the biggest annual increase since 2000. The numbers mean the state has regained the jobs lost in the Great Recession and added tens of thousands more.

That is, of course, terrific news. Also, the state unemployment rate for January dropped to 4.6 percent, down from 5 percent a year ago. Not surprisingly, Christie touted the numbers as proof that his tax cuts and other policies to limit government spending are growing the state’s economy and creating jobs.

Well, maybe. Certainly, the tax cuts, the 2 percent property-tax cap and new tax incentives pushed by Christie did not hurt the business climate. We’ll give him that. But politicians don’t have as much to do with job creation as they would like you to believe. NJBIZ’s readers know who really creates jobs — they do. And not just because the state’s 7 percent sales tax dropped to 6.875 percent.

Biggest increase in private sector employment since 2000 is great
for the state. Let’s leave it at that.

Owners of small businesses, entrepreneurs, investors and corporate CEOs wrestle daily with a muddle of macro- and microeconomic factors that drive such decisions. And more and more of those people — nationwide — are deciding on expansion right now. The payroll firm ADP said last week that private-sector jobs in the United States jumped by 298,000 in February.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, if politicians don’t necessarily deserve all the credit for job creation, nor do they necessarily deserve blame for a lack of job growth. Luck has a lot to do with it, such as simply being in office during periods of growth. But that didn’t stop New Jersey Policy Perspective. The liberal think tank quickly used the new job numbers to note that the state’s employment gains since the recession still lag national gains and that New Jersey’s increase of 60,800 jobs in 2016 coulda/shoulda been better. NJPP said the same federal statistics trumpeted by Christie show job growth in New Jersey has been 0.7 percent since the recession, while growth nationwide has been more than 5 percent.

OK. Not so good.

But we have to say, when your best argument is that a really good number is not as good as it perhaps could be, you don’t have much of a play. The creation of 60,800 new jobs in 2016 and a January jobless rate of 4.6 percent are great news, no matter who or what is responsible. And let’s just leave it at that.

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