Governor Christie’s economic/jobs policies have resulted in NJ now having the 47th highest unemployment rate, a decrease in last year’s GDP of half a percent, a disastrous home forecloure rate, numerous warnings and downgrades from rating agencies, a precipitous decline in public sector jobs, and very slow gain in private sector jobs. His policies have failed. This is all the more serious when one considers the steep increases required next year in pension costs, transportation borrowing, already-approved business tax cuts, and the more than $1 billion in one-shot revenues built into the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
The mantra of “cut, cut, cut” has not worked. Only a stronger NJ economy with more people employed will provide the state the revenues it needs to meet upcoming obligations. So far this year the revenue increase has been so low as to require an impossibly high 10% increase each upcoming month to meet Christie’s unrealistic projection – one on which expenditures are based. As a result it is possible that midyear cuts may be necessary.
Christie, who presumably has survival instincts, could do himself a favor and actually stimulate our economy. Imposing a small gas tax increase would increase funds for highway construction jobs. Spending down quickly the $300 million federal grant for homeowners in distress would help. Any successful jobs-related effort he makes will reduce “safety net” expenditures of our treasury. Almost all other governors are performing better. Why don’t you?
Fortunately in September our unemployment dropped from 9.9% to 9.8% but unfortunately there was a loss of 1,200 jobs (a gain of 1,100 in the private sector and a loss of 2,300 in the public sector.) The Treasury Department’s Chief Economist Charles Steindel, always putting lipstick on the pig, thinks there “might be a sign that the situation is getting better.” I hope he is right, but there was further news in September that average hourly earnings were lower by $0.21 and weekly earnings fell by $6.65. In effect, another disappointing month.
The September NJ unemployment rate of 9.8% was a full 2% above the U.S. rate of 7.8%. Only 3 states have a higher rate. The rates for states in our region were Connecticut: 8.9%, Delaware: 6.8%, New York: 8.9%, and Pennsylvania: 8.2%. Our rate continues higher than when Christie took office and has consistently been 9% or over since then.
The monthly job gain or loss is based on seasonally adjusted non-farm worker employment which in September decreased from 3,906,600 to 3,905,400. The loss over recent years in jobs has been such that one has to go back to 2008 when we averaged more jobs – 4,050,900. During the last twelve months, a period during which Governor Christie trumpeted the Jersey Comeback, there has been only a small job gain of 44,000 or 1%. To get back to where we were in 2008 requires 145,500 new jobs added.