A new Rutgers regional report, "Reinventing the New Jersey Economy: New Metropolitan and Regional Employment Dynamics," finds the legacy of New Jersey's 1980's office building boom is now aging and far less competitive.

Flickr User Markyeg
Flickr User Markyeg

The report looked at the long-term forces that have been changing the shape of regional economic growth. "New Jersey's structural transformation in the 1980s and 1990s to a knowledge-based, information-age economy proceeded in lockstep with the emergence of powerful suburban growth corridors," said James Hughes, dean of Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and co-author of the report. "This 1980s-based office geography evolved into the state's core economic competency, but the attractiveness of suburban growth corridors may have run its course."

Hughes said the changes are evident when you look at the younger generation. "Young people don't like those suburban environments, they are thinning out. Younger workers are more into the open office buildings near New York City with a view of the Hudson River for instance and the office buildings along Route 1 aren't as competitive anymore," said Hughes.

Hughes also examined whether trends that have been in existence for the last half century have now been reversed by fundamental changes in locational preferences. "The larger question is whether New Jersey's office inventory - the once-dominant office parks and other post-industrial "factory" complexes - can be retooled for emerging economic imperatives," the authors note. "Fortunately, there are still suburban office environments that may be successfully reshaped, re-conceptualized, and more importantly, re-tenanted relative to population concentrations and accessibility."

The full report is available online.

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