Following New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s comments Monday touting the state’s gains in fighting unemployment, the governor’s comments are facing criticism from the left. Liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective said after Christie’s appearance in Englewood Cliffs today that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing a full recovery in unemployment after the recession need to be viewed next to national numbers.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in January from 4.7 percent in January. When Christie took office in 2010, it was at 9.8 percent and federal unemployment is currently at 4.8 percent.
“From December 2007, when the recession began, to January 2017, New Jersey has posted job growth of 0.8 percent while the nation has grown jobs by 5.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said the group’s Jon Whiten. “While the state did add close to 70,000 jobs from January 2016 to January 2017, New Jersey’s jobs gains have been sporadic and inconsistent for the past several years. In fact, New Jersey in January 2017 only has 32,700 more jobs than it did in December 2007, when the Great Recession began.
“As the governor likes to say, ‘facts are stubborn things.’ And the stubborn fact about New Jersey’s economic recovery – even with recent positive signs – is that, yes, it still lags behind the nation and most other states. The stubborn facts also show that New Jersey’s middle class is shrinking while poverty and income inequality remain at record levels, with more families struggling while a few at the very top get ahead.”
Christie said at LG Electronics USA this morning that the state has added 313,000 private-sector jobs during his tenure, and that 2016 saw the biggest annual increase since 2000 with 60,800 new positions filled. While those numbers are encouraging, the state still has the highest foreclosure rate in the country and a blighted credit rating due to its ongoing pension funding crisis.
Whiten called for a change in strategy when Christie is term-limited out in 2018. Democratic former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy is frontrunner in the early days of this year’s gubernatorial race.
“New Jersey still has a very long way to go – and the best way to get there would be to shift from the current trickle-down approach to a bubble-up approach where all workers are paid enough to get by, working families don’t have to rely on private charity for the basic necessities, and everyone has a chance to thrive.”