With his happy-talk in his State of the State speech, Gov. Murphy ignored the woeful reality of NJ’s economy under his watch. While it’s typical for a politician to sugar-coat things to make his record look better, Murphy needs to called out for what is in reality severe underperformance compared to the rest of the nation.
As the reliable Jon Reitmeyer pointed out in NJ Spotlight News, Murphy claimed in his speech that NJ’s economy is growing faster than other states’ (which is true in a very limited sense of a quarter-year of GDP growth), but that obscures a much harsher reality.
Here are the unpleasant facts (per Reitmeyer):
- NJ’s unemployment rate remains at 6.6%, the second-highest in the nation (tied with NY and trailed only by CA), a full 2.7% higher than the national average of 3.9%, and 2% higher than the rate Murphy inherited from Gov. Christie.
- Bond-rating agency Fitch described NJ’s job market as “weak,” and noted that since April 2020, New Jersey has recovered 76% of its lost jobs, remaining “below the nation’s 82% recovery. That’s tens of thousands of people still out of a job.
In addition, per the Orange County Register, NJ is the 7th most difficult state to find a job, with 108 job-seekers for every 100 job-openings. By comparison, UT had almost three times as many job-openings as job-seekers. So in the pandemic economy, where nationally job-openings exceed job-seekers by record levels, NJ has the opposite problem: not enough job openings. (Also of note, the six-worst states were HI, CA, CT, NY, IL, and NM – all high-tax “blue” states).
The bottom line: the facts show that NJ’s jobs economy is woefully lagging the rest of the nation with all the negative real-world consequences for the state and its citizens.
So what is Murphy going to do about it in the real world (rather than in the world of speeches)? Again per Reitmeyer, Murphy is socking NJ businesses with increased payroll taxes to replenish the unemployment fund, neglecting to use federal relief funds to lessen that burden as many other states have. That’s a Murphy double-whammy for NJ: his policies have helped keep unemployment high and he is literally making NJ businesses – who could provide employment for the unemployed – pay for it. Talk about a recipe for failure.
Surely our former-Goldman Sachs banker governor understands this, but does our multi-millionaire, term-limited governor even care?