Economist expects NJ job growth to remain sluggish until ’17

A Rutgers University economist is predicting employment in New Jersey won’t return to where it was before the Great Recession until the middle of 2017.

The thousands of jobs lost from casino closings in Atlantic City dragged down the state’s economic growth this year, said Nancy Mantell, director of the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service.

With casinos in Connecticut having problems, Mantell disagrees with the idea of expanding casino gaming into the Meadowlands. After the initial gain in construction jobs, she said, it might not boost long-term employment.

“To me, it doesn’t seem to be the time to expand in an industry where there’s already a lot of competition,” she said Tuesday. “And there are problems other places than here.”

Mantell, who predicts construction activity will pick up in the next year,

“There’s still a lot to do, still a lot of impact from Superstorm Sandy,” she said. “So there should really be construction going on, and permits are still strong for residential as well as office and retail.”

The health services industry also is expected to grow, Mantell said. But, overall, job growth will continue to be slow.

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