Today U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) was joined at the State House by representatives from New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), New Jersey public sector workers, and state leaders to unveil a new report finding that Gov. Christie's policies are a major contributor to New Jersey's high unemployment rate and economic problems. The NJPP analysis concluded that without Christie's policies such as those leading to the layoff and attrition of public employees, New Jersey's unemployment rate would have averaged 8 percent in 2011, significantly lower than the current unemployment rate of 9.9 percent. Senator Lautenberg called for passage of President Obama's American Jobs Act to fund public sector jobs in the state.
"It's clear that Governor Christie's attacks on our state's teachers, cops, firefighters, and public employees have contributed heavily to New Jersey's rising unemployment rate," Lautenberg said. "Not only are Governor Christie's policies putting our communities in danger and undermining public education, but they are also hurting our economy. Public sector workers are essential to our economy and our communities, and the NJPP report lays out a blueprint for how to put people back to work and strengthen the middleclass. We will continue working with President Obama to pass the American Jobs Act and put more teachers, cops, and firefighters on the job in New Jersey."
"The job losses in the public sector have put the brakes on New Jersey's economic recovery," says NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Raymond Castro, the report's author. "Public goods -- like education and public safety -- are some of New Jersey's best selling points to attract new businesses. They must be supported if New Jersey is going to recover from the recession and compete with other states and countries for good jobs."
NJPP has conducted a groundbreaking analysis that details the impact that New Jersey's public sector cuts have had on the state's unemployment rate. New Jersey's unemployment rate of 9.9 percent is the fourth highest in the nation, and the highest in the state since 1977. In its analysis, NJPP notes that public sector cuts have significantly increased unemployment in New Jersey and have also led to job losses in the private sector. The study notes that the national economy cannot explain New Jersey's underperformance relative to other states, and that New Jersey's unemployment rate began to significantly exceed the national average after Christie made major cuts to state operations and aid to towns and school districts in 2010.
To promote a jobs recovery in New Jersey and set the stage for future economic growth, NJPP recommends that new federal aid be distributed over an extended period of time to the states and localities that demonstrate a high need for public jobs, and the state government act more strategically and take job losses into account when budget cuts are proposed.
Senator Lautenberg has voted for legislation supporting middle-class jobs, including President Obama's "American Jobs Act." Senate Republicans blocked action on the bill, which would have provided approximately $831 million to New Jersey to keep teachers in the classroom, police on the beat, and firefighters on the scene. The legislation would allow for the hiring or prevent the layoff of up to 400,000 educators nationwide, including nearly 10,000 in New Jersey. It also would keep thousands more cops and firefighters on the job.
Working to keep public sector workers on the job in New Jersey, Senator Lautenberg was a leading supporter of the Recovery Act and a teachers' jobs bill that President Obama signed into law in August of 2010. The two laws provided New Jersey with more than $4 billion for the state and local governments to prevent layoffs of public employees.