PARSIPPANY, NJ-According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s most recent market update, New Jersey’s office market is ending the year on a high note. Despite the dire predictions of an imminent national recession, JLL reports that unemployment in the state remained below the national average, vacancy rates fell and average asking rents rose.

The most recent figures from the New Jersey Department of Labor indicate the state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.2%, a slight rise from the 4.1% reported in October, but still well below the national average of 4.7%. The state Department of Labor estimates that 2,100 jobs were added in November.

“Jobs in New Jersey have expanded consistently over the past seven months,” says labor commissioner David Socolow in a DOL release. “Looking back at this time last year, the gain of 2,100 jobs in November of 2007 was a significant improvement over November of 2006, when employment fell by 2,300 jobs.”

Job growth means company growth, and accordingly, overall vacancy rates fell for the third month in a row, finishing November at 23.6%. The lowest vacancy rates in Northern New Jersey were found in Newark, at 13.2%, and the Hudson Waterfront, whose vacancy rate fell to 11.7% from the 12% it reported in October. According to the report, over one million sf of space was absorbed in the Hudson Waterfront market in 2007.

Vacancy rates in Central New Jersey were slightly higher than in the north, at 21.5% overall. Monmouth reported the lowest vacancy rate of 17% overall and 13.8% for class A office space.

Asking rents throughout the state rose slightly throughout November, ending at $25.28 per sf, up $.11 from October’s $25.17. The Hudson Waterfront commands the highest rents of $31.55 per sf, up marginally from $31.47. Average rents in North and Central New Jersey also went up. North Jersey now commands $26.34 per sf, up from the previous month’s $26.18, and space in Central Jersey goes for $23.89 per sf. The Lower 287 submarket has the lowest average rent in the state, at $18.36 per sf.

Those who compiled the report were not surprised by the results. “Overall, the year’s been relatively flat, there hasn’t been a lot of negative movement, and things picked up in the third quarter,” Jon Meisel, an EVP in JLL’s Parsippany office, tells “It didn’t surprise me that things got a little better. There was a lot of pent-up demand because of the uneasiness in the marketplace with the credit crunch. It slowed down a lot of the decision making, but New Jersey isn’t feeling the impact of the credit crunch as strongly as other areas of the country.” Meisel credits New Jersey’s dense population and overall economic strength with helping the state ride out the crisis in the credit markets.

Meisel does not anticipate great things for the upcoming year, but he does not foresee any disasters either. “I think the first half of 2008, barring any unforeseen interferences, will be relatively flat. We do anticipate some kind of uptake near the end of the year.” Although 2008 might be slightly rocky for some, Meisel expects the credit markets to stabilize somewhat, paving the way for more growth in 2009.

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