Ever since the Great Recession officially ended five years ago, the New Jersey economy has been lagging behind the rest of the nation, but new data suggests the Garden State may finally be turning a corner.

(denisvrublevski, ThinkStock)

“We added 31,200 jobs in 2014, but it looks like we’ll add 56,000 in 2015, so that is almost a doubling. The key metric for evaluating the state economy in an up-to-date manner, is monthly payroll employment," said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Hughes said that’s important because “job creation generates more income, it pulls people out of poverty, it increases consumer expenditure streams, job growth is really key to a healthy economy.”

“It suggests that 2016 could be very, very positive, that we’re heading into it with very positive job growth momentum. 2016 should be a repeat of 2015, so we’ll be adding between 55,000 and 60,000 private sector jobs," he said.

Hughes said another positive element that has contributed to New Jersey’s strong economic rebound is cheaper energy prices.

“Companies may see their energy bills lowered, so it may make it easier for them to hire,” he said.

At the same time, he said in 2013 and 2014 “the aftershocks of hurricane Sandy were still evident, and then 2014 we had the resizing of Atlantic City's casinos for a post-monopoly world and those are  now kind of fading.”

Hughes said the private sector jobs that have been created cover a wide spectrum, some high paying, some lower paying.

“I think our job creation pattern is pretty much in sync with the nation as a whole,” he said.

And there are other positive factors at play as well.

“We’re in a multi-family rental housing boom, we’re in an industrial warehouse distribution boom,” he said. “That has really been beneficial to the economy, and our economy is really supported now by very strong national growth."

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.