The nation's job creation has now surpassed pre-recession levels. But in New Jersey, that employment picture is still recovering.

Employment application form
Employment application form (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

The jobs report showed we lost 8.8 million jobs during the downturn, and we have regained 13.5-million. The nation fully recovered all of its jobs in March of 2014. So we are about 4.7-million ahead of where we were in terms of total employment before the recession.

But New Jersey is a different story. We lost 241,000 jobs and have only gained back 192,000, according to Rutgers economist James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

"New Jersey is lagging way behind the nation," Hughes said.

Hughes says three things have slowed Jersey jobs recovery.

"One, Hurricane Sandy has had a longer and lasting impact than we thought. So that has been a little ripple," he said. "Second, we did not anticipate the sheer scale of the Atlantic City resizing. And so that is another speed bump. But third, New Jersey is highly dependent on suburban office buildings. That is our core competency. We have one of the great conglomerations of office buildings in the country."

But according to Hughes, they are aging and falling out of favor. So that is another reason why we are taking so long to recapture all of our jobs. He says New Jersey has to reinvent itself and find a replacement for those suburban office buildings.

According to Hughes, we still have a long way to go.

"We fell into a deep hole and it has been a long, arduous climb out of it," he said.

Hughes says it may take until 2017 before New Jersey sees a full recovery.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.

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