The Bloustein School continued to keep a close watch over the New Jersey economy through late 2008 and early 2009 in a series of reports issued by the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service (R/ECON™) and by Dean James W. Hughes and University Professor Joseph J. Seneca in their Sitar-Rutgers Regional Report series. Regional media, such as The Star-Ledger, NJ Biz and the Asbury Park Press, have come to rely on the reports in their coverage of the economy and featured their release prominently.
From the January Report: New Jersey and the
U.S. Employment Growth 1980 to 2018
At the Winter R/ECON Conference in January, R/ECON Director Nancy H. Mantell predicted that the basic structure of New Jersey’s economy would somewhat ease the effects of the national recession, and that the state could experience slight job growth in early 2010. Although New Jersey’s unemployment rate would continue to climb, peaking at 7.2 percent in 2010, she forecasted that it would stay below the nation’s anticipated high of 8.7 percent.
Mantell explained that the substantial job losses experienced nationally occurred in sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, that played a smaller role in New Jersey’s economy. In effect, the state was doing “less badly” than the rest of the nation, she said. She was joined at the conference by Dean Hughes, Professor Seneca and Jason Bram, an economist specializing in microeconomic and regional studies with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Hughes and Seneca also offered forecasts through their quarterly series of Sitar-Rutgers Regional Reports. The February 2009 report, featured as the lead story in the Feb. 9 edition of The Star-Ledger, asked what would be the “new normal” after the economy recovers. With the demise of bubble-driven economics, the report forecast a post-recession economy with a “reduced-scale, less potent” financial sector, more constrained global credit markets, consumer retrenchment characterized by higher savings and lower consumption, decelerating home ownership and a “fundamentally reshaped” commercial real estate sector.
From the February Report: 2009:
The Shape of the "New Normal
“Eventually, the current downturn will end, and both the United States and New Jersey will move into a post-recession future,” the report concluded. “Success in that future will be based on understanding the new normality that will emerge.”
In their November 2008 Sitar report, Hughes and Seneca called the first 10 years of the 21st Century the “lost employment decade” for New Jersey. The report forecast that New Jersey would exit this decade with fewer jobs than when it began, a phenomenon not experienced since the Great Depression. However, they went on to note that New Jersey could replicate its positive experience emerging from the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s. “New Jersey’s much lower office rents may again gain relevance—significant relevance,” Hughes and Seneca wrote in the report. “This was the case during the 1989–1992 Wall Street meltdown. Even though the “Street” was hemorrhaging jobs, financial employment grew on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.”