During early 1999, New Jersey’s economy continued on its upward path propelled by the nation’s seven-year growth cycle. There were strong increases in employment, low inflation, and a voracious consumer economy, as reflected by housing permits, residential construction contracts, and new vehicle registrations. Between December 1998 and May 1999, the job base grew by 26,900, a rise of 1.7% at annual rates. More than 400,000 jobs have been added to the economy since the bottom of the recession of the early 1990s; the current employment level exceeds the 1989 peak by 150,000. During the first five months of the year, however, the unemployment rate rose from 4.4% to 4.7%. Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed were as high in May 1999 as in early 1998. The R/ECON forecast for New Jersey is for a continuing but slowing expansion.
In 1998, employment rose by 76,200 jobs, or 2.0%, with output growth of 2.8%, and little inflation. There will be reduced growth in 1999 in both output and employment, while inflation will remain under 2%. The state’s population increased by 0.7% in 1998. It will slow a bit over the forecast period as foreign immigration declines.