The Garden State has withstood the economic downturn better than other parts of the country, with less dramatic increases in unemployment and availability rates in commercial real estate space, according to two local experts. But New Jersey’s relative stability has more to do with the state’s lack of growth than having a more robust economy than other states, they said.
In New Jersey, “we lost employment faster than in the prior two recessions,” said Rae Rosen, senior economist and assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, speaking at the Newark Regional Business Partnership’s annual Real Estate Market Forecast in the Brick City Tuesday morning. The job loss isn’t as severe as it was in the 1989 downturn, which had close to an 8 percent decline, compared a current decline of about 6 percent.
But “the unemployment rate rose dramatically,” to 10.1 percent statewide in December 2009; the rate was even higher in the Ocean City and Atlantic City-Hammonton metropolitan areas and Hudson County, she said. “These aren’t typical of these areas.”
Private-sector job growth in the state declined 2.7 percent year-over-year in December, compared to 3.5 percent nationally, Rosen said. But breaking down job growth by sector, she noted that the state lost a large portion of its manufacturing jobs in the last two decades, so “the rate of loss wasn’t as bad.”
Overall in New Jersey, “the rate of loss wasn’t as bad as the nation, but going forward, it may not get a rapid pickup, either,” Rosen said.
While the United States and New York saw a big dip in office availability during the boom years between 2005 and 2007, the Garden State’s availability rate had “a slow but steady increase” during that time, and “a lot of that is because of the lack of private-sector job growth in the state.”