Jersey's unemployment rate stands at 9.9 percent, but new data from the Conference Board indicates the manufacturing sector is expanding.

Flick User JGNY

Rutgers economist James Hughes says over the past two years, "We have had a significant rebound in manufacturing - exports have grown, demand for products have increased -but we haven't seen a significant spike in manufacturing numbers here because New Jersey lacks some of the skilled workers that New Jersey manufacturers need…So to some degree, the state's lag in manufacturing is really due to a shortage of highly qualified, educated, sophisticated manufacturing workers."

Hughes says what we're seeing now is not the automobile assembly line manufacturing of the past.

"These are small, nimble, high-tech firms that produce very sophisticated technological products, such as medical instruments and the like," says Hughes, "And these require workers, who have computer capabilities in order to operate computer-aided manufacturing…So getting people the skills they need to do these jobs is a top priority. Workforce training, workforce development is a critical area - the Department of Labor has always had a strong focus on that area…Opportunities are there if we can provide workers with the appropriate skills."