Given all we’ve heard about the “New Jersey Comeback,” one might expect us to have one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. That would comport with the governor’s projected revenue growth in his budget proposal, among the most aggressively positive in the nation.
Here’s the bad news for “Comeback” salesmen: New Jersey is one of only six states that saw a decrease in Gross Domestic Product in 2011.
The reality is scary, and needs to be acknowledged by New Jersey’s leaders. A new US Bureau of Economic Analysis report documents that New Jersey lags the nation in recovering from the Great Recession.
While the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by state grew by 1.5 percent in 2011, New Jersey’s GDP shrunk by 0.5 percent. Only Alabama, Mississippi and Wyoming performed worse.
In the Mideast region, New Jersey lagged behind its neighbors, bringing the growth rate for the entire region down. New York and Pennsylvania grew at 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Taken with New Jersey’s fifth highest unemployment ranking and reports from independent credit agencies and the Office of Legislative Services about the state’s slowly growing tax collections, this latest report is sobering to say the least. One would hope that the public conversation would turn from dribbling back barely visible tax cuts to investing in creating better opportunities for the state’s struggling families and restoring New Jersey’s place as a center of research and innovation.
“Despite the sloganeering, every independent analysis shows there is no ‘Comeback’ at all. In fact, it is clear that New Jersey is still in the grips of recession,” says New Jersey Policy Perspective president Gordon MacInnes. “Kill the false advertising campaign, forget about borrowing to pay for invisible tax cuts, and concentrate on investments that will restore opportunities for all New Jerseyans.”