New Jersey's Curiously Weak Economy

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 9 2014 12:21 PM

New Jersey's Curiously Weak Economy

1389283306

With Chris Christie in some political hot water, it's a good time to look at something that's puzzled me for a while about his popularity. New Jersey's economy seems to be in pretty bad shape.

It's difficult to know exactly what the best comparison is, but New Jersey unemployment is higher than the national average. It's also higher than the average for the Northeast. It's higher than the average unemployment for the Philadelphia metropolitan area (much of which is in New Jersey) and it's higher than the average unemployment for the New York City metropolitan area (which, again, is partially in New Jersey). Either the Jersey-side suburbs of New York and Philadelphia are lagging behind the non-Jersey suburbs, or else the labor market in the non-metro parts of New Jersey is so horrendous that it's dragging the whole state down.

Advertisement

This is not a trend that was evident before the recession began, when New Jersey had a slightly stronger than average economy. But during 2009 (when Christie was first running for office), New Jersey unemployment soared above its local comps while still remaining slightly below the national average. Then since Christie's inauguration, Jersey unemployment has fallen steadily but not closed the gap with metro NYC or metro Philly unemployment rates, and the national rate has fallen much faster than the New Jersey rate.

Whether Christie actually deserves any blame for this I couldn't say. But incumbent executive officeholders frequently end up taking the blame (or credit) for this kind of thing, and Christie largely hasn't—floating instead on a wave of massive local popularity. But if scandal takes some of the sheen off, I wonder if these underlying negatives will start to loom larger in people's thinking about his reputation.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?