Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Jersey won't reach pre-recession employment levels until 2016

New Jersey has finally started to recover some of the jobs it lost during the recession, but at such a sluggish pace it will take another five years to get back to pre-slump levels, according to a Rutgers University report being released today.

The state is not expected to reach 2007 employment levels until at least mid-2016, said Nancy Mantell, director of the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service, which compiles the semiannual report. That means New Jersey continues to remain a full two years behind the rest of the nation in terms of economic recovery, an estimate she first put forth last year.

"A lot of this goes back a decade, when much of the employment growth was from the government sector," Mantell said in an interview. "I don’t see that recovering any time soon. I don’t really foresee any kind of recovery in manufacturing or construction in the short term, either."

Recent research by the New York Federal Reserve shows New Jersey has become vulnerable to a wide range of structural shifts in its economy, including heavy consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry, a decline in the manufacturing sector and weak job growth in the public sector.

In her report, Mantell said public sector employment plunged in 2010 after the run-up to the Census, while private employment has grown slightly.

After several consecutive years of job losses, the state will add, on average, 38,800 jobs annually, or about 1 percent a year, the report said. At that rate, New Jersey’s employment base is expected to grow 4 percent by 2020 — compared to 8 percent for the rest of the nation. (read more)