As we begin 2019, the global economy seems uncertain. But experts believe the outlook is more positive than negative, including in New Jersey.

“Our growth rate for employment, at least through October, was very consistent to that of the nation, was very consistent to that of New York and was ahead of Pennsylvania and Connecticut,” Rutgers University economist James Hughes said.

As a result, “the New Jersey economy in 2018 really outperformed our expectations earlier in the year.”

Hughes pointed out that after a sluggish period following the Great Recession, “the last several years we have gained traction and the economy has gotten up to speed."

He said the state economy has been impacted by fundamental structural changes, including the flow of Millennials out of suburban New Jersey into urban environments, and suburban office buildings and malls struggling to stay relevant.

“We’ve had to adjust to really a post-suburban economic and demographic era, but I think the state has finally started to respond," he said.

“The office industry has repositioned a number of buildings and campuses, really transforming them into viable future economic assets.”

At the same time, as Millennials — adults as old as 35 —have started having children, “they’re going to be looking for family-raising environments, and I think they’re getting tired of living in a shoebox in Brooklyn and a little bit of green patch in New Jersey looks pretty good.”

Hughes pointed out the recent announcement by e-commerce giant Amazon to locate a new headquarters in Long Island City will benefit the Garden State economically.

“We’re in the gravitational field of New York City and so we’re getting a spillover effect from that. We have a chance to be part of that broader technology ecosystem going forward.”

With the recent interest rate hike by the Fed, ongoing concern about a possible trade war with China and political shifts in Europe, financial markets remain jittery. But Hughes said the state's unemployment rate remains low — and should remain that way "unless the global economy goes into a tank.”

He said when all of these factors are taken together, “we’re in a much better position today than we were, say, in 2012 and 2013.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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