N.J. economy continues to trail national average

Rutgers University economists say it could take another four years for the number of jobs in New Jersey to get back to the pre-recession levels.

The Garden State’s economy will continue to grow but more slowly than the nationwide rate, said Nancy Mantell, director of the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service.

“One reason is that some of the recovery at the national level is from manufacturing, which New Jersey essentially doesn’t have much of anymore,” she said Wednesday. “It’s not a growth industry here, whereas, in the nation, manufacturing is growing.”

Meanwhile, rapid advances in mobile technology are reducing the appeal of working in suburban office buildings constructed in the 1980s, said James Hughes, the dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

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“Eco-boomers or millennials want to work in activity environments, Jersey City, they want to work in Brooklyn, they want to work in the High Line district of Manhattan, completely different from their parents,” he said. “So they don’t want to work in suburban office campuses.”

Some of those office complexes are now obsolete and the loss of jobs there will undermine the property tax base of some suburban communities, he said.

The high cost of doing business in the Garden State and a lower proportion of working-age residents also will slow the pace of economic growth, according to Mantell.

The state could rebound faster if it were able to substantially increase manufacturing in the solar and wind industry, she said.

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