Rutgers’ economist: N.J. recovery will continue to lag U.S. comeback

NEW BRUNSWICK – Nancy Mantell, director of Rutgers Economic Advisory Service, said New Jersey’s economy is growing more slowly than the U.S. economy, and will continue to do so for some time, despite recent gains.

“Recovery is much smaller than in the (rest of) U.S.,” she said Friday at a post-Sandy impact conference at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy here. 

While the United States has recovered two-thirds of the number of jobs that were lost in the so-called Great Recession, New Jersey has only been able to regain about 42 percent of the jobs it lost, according to Mantell.

The state lost a huge number of government jobs, a category that led to the bulk of job creation before the economic slowdown, he said.

In comparison to neighboring states, New Jersey’s comeback has been “a little bit lower, a little worse,” but she added that New York’s recovery “has been much much stronger.”

Much of the recent growth that has taken place in New Jersey has been in construction, wholesale trade and information systems.

While the real estate market improved “substantially” in 2012, the number of actual housing permits has been below average.

Between 1970 and 2012, an average of 30,600 permits were issued annually. But in 2012 alone, just about 17,000 were issued, Mantel said.

Still, the improving housing market has yielded a bump in realty transfer tax revenues, she said.

New Jersey is still expected to lag national trends. By 2023, Mantell forecasted the national unemployment rate will be 5.6 percent, while New Jersey’s will be 6.0 percent.

Rutgers’ economist: N.J. recovery will continue to lag U.S. comeback