Despite oft-cited concerns from lawmakers and business groups that New Jersey lacks a competitive edge against other states – and worries about so-called “outmigration” – a new study would suggest that the Garden State’s economy is actually quite healthy.
Online magazine SeniorLiving.org, in a recent study, ranked New Jersey as the fourth healthiest economy out of 50 states in its 2020 Economic Health Index.
Ahead of New Jersey were Massachusetts, Colorado and California—and at dead last were Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Mississippi.
The study looked at factors such as nationwide November 2019 unemployment rates, changes in unemployment between 2015 and 2019, average annual wages in 2018, and 2018’s total gross domestic product and its changes since 2014.
New Jersey had the ninth highest average income in 2018 at $58,210, and the eighth highest gross domestic product that year at $622 billion, according to the study. The state’s unemployment fell from 7.2 percent in January 2014 to 4.6 percent in January 2018, according to data from the state labor department.
The state’s average annual wage rose by 8 percent between 2014 and 2018 – ranking at a lackluster 47th place – according to the study, while its GDP grew by 13.8 percent during those same four years.
The Feb. 17 study comes at a time when lawmakers from both parties worry that because of the state’s high tax rate and its lack of a corporate tax incentive program, New Jersey is increasingly uncompetitive.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-21st District, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, came out against Gov. Phil Murphy after his State of the State address a month ago, arguing that the governor, a Democrat, had not proposed anything to address the issue of affordability in the state.
Meanwhile, a joint study between Fairleigh Dickinson University and the conservative policy think tank Garden State Initiative found that nearly half of New Jersey residents would consider moving out of the state in the coming years, many of them citing taxation.