NEW JERSEY 101.5

The current status, and future, of New Jersey's economy was the focus of a forum in Trenton this week, where experts from across the state shared their views on what needs to improve during Gov. Chris Christie's second term.

The presentation from Charles Steindel, Chief Economist with the New Jersey Treasury Department, cited ongoing progress since the recession on the national and state level, but he noted there's still a long way to go before a full recovery.

"We'd like to see a much faster pace of growth," Steindel told Townsquare Media. "If the national economy would grow faster, New Jersey's economy would grow faster. There's no question about that."

Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland, said jobs growth is key to economic recovery. (Townsquare Media)

He expressed confidence in the recent performance of New Jersey's housing market, noting an uptick in homebuilding and prices.

Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland, suggested the construction industry will need to be one of the few industries that take the lead in job growth. He said New Jersey's "former engines of growth," like pharmaceuticals and telecommunications, have stalled for now. The construction industry accounts for one-third of New Jersey jobs that went missing because of the economic downturn.

"Jobs growth is ultimately the future of the economy," O'Keefe said. "If we don't add jobs and well-paying jobs, then the demand component is going to be weak and the economic growth is going to be weak as well."