Last year in the Garden State, 64,500 private sector jobs were created, more than twice the number in 2014, and the highest total since the year 2000.


Nevertheless, there are still concerns about whether the Garden State economy is truly healthy and strong.

“I think we have reasonable momentum going into 2016, however there is always a concern about the quality of jobs, and that’s a concern nationally as well, according to James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

He said a troubling aspect of what we’re seeing is an increasing number of unfilled jobs.

“What we’re seeing is some high end jobs where there’s a mismatch between the skills of people who are unemployed and what those jobs require,” he said. “On the other hand we have a lot of jobs at the bottom of the income ladder such as wait staff and the like, so it is a smorgasbord of different types of jobs out there.”

He also said there’s never been a time when we were only creating good, high paying jobs, but the current picture is uneven.

“We have a chance to keep the momentum going, but it’s not a sure bet," Hughes said.

He said the manufacturing sector is starting to grow a bit in New Jersey, but the stuff being made is of the high tech variety.

“You should not think of the automobile production plant in New Jersey, you should see very sophisticated workers in what almost look like test labs,” he said.

Hughes believes a important element to watch is whether the U.S. economy continues to build momentum.

“That has acted as a tailwind for the New Jersey economy, but as the stock market gyrations have shown there is worry about whether the U.S. can continue to grow as fast in a very uncertain global economy,” he said. “It’s too soon to call this an employment surge, I don’t think we can call it economic liftoff quite yet, there’s certainly uncertainty out there.”

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