Governor Christie desperately continues with his pollyanna view of New Jersey’s economy – reaching for straws and ignoring the large base of available but unpleasant data. It is not surprising because he has promoted himself as the comeback kid and wants to present that image to a national audience next week. Nonetheless, it is reprehensible because it is inaccurate and offers no basis for needed changes.
He was grasping at straws yesterday in Asbury Park when he dismissed the July unemployment numbers, saying they would probably be revised downward. The Star-Ledger article went on to point out, “In the last 12 months the numbers have only been revised down once, in July 2011, and have been adjusted higher four times from September to December 2011.” Christie failed to mention that unemployment in July (9.8%) is higher than when he took office (9.7%), is higher than all but three states, and has remained at 9% or higher during his entire administration.
Although 12,000 jobs were lost in July he boasted that in recent months there have been increases. Nonetheless, given that the average total of non-farm jobs in 2009 before he took office were 3,894,900 and in July 2012 were 3,899,600, during his administration there have been only 4,700 new jobs added.
Christie predicated his across the board 10% tax increase on an unrealistic 7% increase in revenue in the new year starting July. So how did it go in July? We now learn that tax collections were $32 million (9.4%) below those of last year and $18 million (5.5%) below budget. Although we don’t yet have a final accounting, we also know that collections in the fiscal year ending June 30 did not even meet the administration’s May budget revision.
Home foreclosures remain like a Damoclean sword above our heads. While in July year-over-year thirty-eight states posted annual decreases in bank repossessions, NJ saw a 21 percent increase. Even worse, foreclosure starts increased on a year-over-year basis in 27 states, with NJ having the second highest increase at 164%.
Christie’s dreams are our nightmare. Rather than trying to perpetuate a shattered myth, he would do better accepting the problems and addressing them. Indeed, if he seeks re-election he will have no choice. The Federal Reserve projects a contraction in the NJ economy through December 2012. It’s going to be a long 14 months between now and election time.