New Jersey’s economy is now in the seventh year of a growth cycle. Employment has risen by more than 400,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession of the early 1990s, exceeding the previous peak level by more than 130,000 posts. As important, both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed residents have plummeted from their mid-1992 highs. The number of jobless in the first quarter of 1999, at 181,600, is less than half the peak level. Income growth has been strong, and the consumer economy, as reflected in the housing market, is buoyant as well.
The R/ECON forecast for New Jersey is for a continuation of the current expansion but at a somewhat slower pace. In 1998, the workforce rose by 76,300 jobs, or 2.0%, with output growth of 3.4% and little inflation. Both output and employment growth will slow slightly in 1999, while inflation will advance to just over 2%. Over the first two decades of the next century, the rate of job creation will average 0.9% per year and output will increase 2.0% per year. Population will increase at about half the rate of growth of employment over the long run. Ongoing job activity of this magnitude implies both a rise in labor force participation and more in-commutation to the state.