NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-For those speculating about when the economy would start creating enough jobs to fill some of the vacant office space in New Jersey, the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service has issued a forecast that the state will add an average of 50,000 jobs a year through 2010. That translates into an average annual growth rate of 1.2%, and would put the state’s non-agricultural workforce past the 4.3 million mark by the end of the decade.

“New Jersey’s employment picture strengthened rapidly during the past several months, resulting in the creation of 65,500 jobs in the last year,” says Nancy H. Mantell, director of R/ECON, speaking at a conference yesterday at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

“In May, the state’s job total of 4,035,400 finally surpassed the peak reached at the end of the last business cycle in December 2000,” she continues.

The R/ECON forecast projects the strongest growth in the service sectors, notably professional and business services, education and healthcare. Together, they will provide 57% of New Jersey’s jobs, according to Mantell.

Job growth is also foreseen in transportation and the information sector. But manufacturing, despite gaining 2,000 jobs in June, is forecast to combine with the natural resources sector to shed 13,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

Mantell also predicted that New Jersey’s real gross state product would grow by an average of 2.9% per year through the end of the decade. And New Jersey, already one of the country’s richest states in terms of personal income, will get even richer. According to Mantell, personal income will rise by an average of 5.3% a year through 2010.

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