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Christie Touts Region’s Best Unemployment Rate, Credits Anti-Tax Stance

Friday, March 18, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 03/16/2016

Armed with new labor statistics that show New Jersey’s unemployment rate has now fallen below the nation’s and all other states in the region, Gov. Chris Christie came forward yesterday to tout his administration’s anti-tax policies. The governor’s victory lap highlighted a drop in New Jersey’s unemployment rate that reached nearly 2 percentage points between January 2015 and this past January, which was the best 12-month decline in the jobless average for any U.S. state over that period. New Jersey’s improving unemployment picture also drew praise yesterday from Republican lawmakers and business-lobbying groups who share Christie’s views on tax policy. But a liberal think tank called the state’s progress only “modest,” and downplayed any connection to Christie administration initiatives.

Meanwhile, other unemployment statistics released this week also served to pour some rain on Christie’s parade, showing New Jersey had a rough month of January, losing more than 14,000 jobs. And though Christie tried to put the focus on the economy and jobs yesterday, he faced repeated questions from reporters about his decision earlier this week to skip the funeral for a New Jersey state trooper who died in the line of duty. Christie instead attended out-of-state campaign events with GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. But new figures released earlier this week by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the New Jersey unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent in January, well below the federal 4.9 percent jobless average. New Jersey’s unemployment rate is also now lower than the rates in Pennsylvania, 4.6 percent; Delaware, 4.7 percent; New York, 4.9 percent; and Connecticut, 5.5 percent. New Jersey’s rate has been in a steady decline since the summer of 2012, with that progress coming even after superstorm Sandy hit the state and caused extensive damage that fall.

Back in September 2012, when New Jersey’s jobless average was a far less flattering 9.3 percent, the Christie administration’s then-chief economist said there were some “significant issues” with how the rate was calculated. And the governor himself said in early 2013 that he had “no idea what the unemployment rate means.” But yesterday Christie took particular pride in pointing out the gap that now exists between the unemployment rates in New Jersey and Connecticut, where a Democratic governor has allowed lawmakers to raise taxes. Christie said his own administration has held the line on taxes, while also phasing in a set of business-tax reductions and offering tax incentives to help companies willing to expand in New Jersey. “I would say it is not coincidental at all to take a look at the fact that you have two states in the region that have clearly gone in opposite directions during the time I have been governor,” he said. HelloFresh, which hosted the governor’s event yesterday, was awarded a $37 billion tax incentive through the state’s Economic Development Authority last year for an expansion that will create 400 new jobs. The company, which also has locations in California and Texas, has found success by delivering meal ingredients to the doorsteps of 500,000 subscribers.

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