Reports find job and economic growth slowing in NJ

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

    Even before hurricanes prompted a major boost in energy costs, New Jersey’s economy was slowed by higher gasoline prices and its employment posture softened, according to two reports released Tuesday. Both reports predicted continued, if slower, growth for the state’s economy. ``The outlook is still positive, but we see expansion moderating a bit,’’ said Kathy Kalser, regional manager of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s Division of Insurance and Research. The reports cover periods before August and September’s devastating hurricanes, which the FDIC said would slow U.S. economic activity for the rest of the year. In New Jersey, ``No doubt, heating prices will be higher this winter, at least temporarily, because of the shortages due to the hurricane,’’ Kalser said. The FDIC found that the state added jobs in the spring but not at the rates recorded in the three prior seasons, leaving job growth in the Garden State running slightly below the national rate. Consumer-driven industries, such as housing construction and mortgage services, are credited with nearly two-thirds of new jobs in the second quarter, the FDIC said. The report said job growth was strongest in and around Camden because of professional and business services, and Trenton, due to state government. However, Atlantic City and Newark lost jobs during the quarter ending June 30. Newark’s job losses were blamed on continued weakness in the professional and business sector. Home prices continued double-digit increases. The monthly mortgage at a median-priced home in northern New Jersey is now $2,362, up 50 percent from 2000, the FDIC said. Apartment rents have increased marginally. A decline in the rate of new housing permits and other factors, both in New Jersey and nationally, has economists waiting for more data to see if the real estate boom may be easing. ``It’s a little early to call that,’’ Kalser said. New Jersey banks insured by the FDIC reported a slight decline in profitability in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2004. An increase in interest rates is credited with prompting depositors to put more money into certificates of deposit, putting the growth rate for CDs ahead of savings accounts, checking accounts and money market accounts for the first time in several years, the FDIC reported.