Rutgers report: Economic snapshot of N.J.’s next 10 years

TRENTON – Over the next 10 years, New Jersey residents can expect to see more jobs created in health and education, a smaller manufacturing base, plenty of fast food joints, and smaller vehicles on the road.

Those are just some of the findings in this month’s report from the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service,  “New Jersey: The Recovery is Underway,” by Nancy H. Mantell and Michael L. Lahr.

As has been the case for some time, the state is likely to continue to lag in job creation, as the unemployment rate will remain higher than the national average, the report states.

By 2022, the unemployment rate should be 5.7 percent, much lower than the current 9 percent rate, but higher than the 5.4 percent national rate that’s likely to be in place that year. The reason: There will be more people looking for jobs than there will be job openings, according to the report.

The report warned that volatility in general, but particularly in some areas like energy consumption, could stifle a quicker recovery. For example, the report pointed out that the price of natural gas could change if its supply “from hydro-fracking is cut for environmental/policy reasons.”

“There are still so many ongoing problems in the U.S. and global economies that we believe the pace of recovery and expansion in the state in this business cycle will remain modest,” the report said.

Many of the state’s future jobs will be spread out in a variety of sectors. Healthy and consistent growth is expected in the professional and businesses sectors, education and health services. Each of these industries makes up more than 16 percent of the jobs in New Jersey.

While the state is expected to see population growth, estimated to hit 9 million residents by 2015, it will be relatively slow, compared to previous decades.

The housing market is expected to remain sluggish for some time, as new home sales fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2011.

The popular choice these days is for multifamily dwellings instead of single-family homes, as some 45 percent of residential building permits issued in 2011 were for that type of housing, the report states.

Chemical production will continue to be the biggest kind of manufacturing in the state, the report said. However, the industry in general is expected shrink its footprint over this period. By 2022, manufacturing jobs will make up just 5.7 percent of all jobs.

“We look for a continuing, although slowing decline in manufacturing jobs through the end of the decade. After that, manufacturing jobs will be steady at about 236,000.”

Demographically , the report anticipates an older, grayer population, with residents age 65 and older expected to total 330,000 by 2022. 

“We expect that over the forecast period, more social services will be directed toward the growing elderly population,” the report states. “By 2022, residents who are 65 and older will make up 16.2 percent of the state’s population.”

Currently, senior citizens make up about 13.5 percent of the population. 

The construction industry should see an uptick with new hotels and college buildings.

Once new hotels are built, they are expected to create some 1,700 jobs a year in the leisure and hospitality services sector.

The retail sector is expected to shrink slightly because of changing habits in shopping.

The decline, according to the report, “is a reflection of the reduced level of personal service over the past couple of decades, first, as ‘big box’ stores and then, as Internet sales have become increasingly important shopping modes.”

The preference for more fuel-efficient vehicles, the report found, is also growing, which could affect truck sales.

“Growth in the light truck segment of the market will be slower than that for automobiles as consumers continue to try to economize on the use of fossil fuels by switching to smaller and more environmentally friendly vehicles.”

The changing economy is also expected to change the way people eat when leaving home, according to the report, which means slower-than-usual job growth in the food services industry. The projected growth of new jobs annually in this sector is 600, way down from the 3,400  per year that it averaged for decades.

“The slow growth reflects the seeming saturation of the state with mid-range and fast food restaurants as well as changing dining-out habits because of the slow economy.”

  Rutgers report: Economic snapshot of N.J.’s next 10 years