Sullivan: Check the facts — Murphy is building strong economy for all businesses

Since day one of his administration, Gov. Phil Murphy has been laser-focused on building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy. When he entered office, the governor inherited an economy that had become both increasingly unequal and that had stagnated, with our home state ranking dead last in the region for job creation.

Today, thanks to both his consistent investment in growth and a deep commitment to New Jersey’s working families, our economic momentum is incredibly strong. New Jersey continues to lead the region — including Pennsylvania — in job creation since the peak of the pandemic. And, in every region of the state, new industries are taking root and providing new career opportunities for our residents.

As budget season kicks into high gear, there will be continued debate and discussion about how to best keep that momentum going, with Murphy having offered a clear and convincing case for his vision in his budget address last week.

But, as that debate proceeds, it is important to remember the context and facts that surround it, because, as former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously quipped, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Here are some facts for your consideration. Murphy’s record of supporting the business community and economic growth is nothing short of extraordinary.

  • In January 2021, Murphy signed the Economic Recovery Act, which gave the New Jersey Economic Development Authority access to more than $14 billion of resources to support economic growth across 15 distinct programs;
  • By bringing back the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit in 2018, Murphy has led a renaissance in the New Jersey film industry — which supported 8,500 jobs in 2022;
  • The Aspire program has awarded more than $1.5 billion in support for commercial, mixed-use and residential projects all throughout the state — including two major projects in Newark and Woodbridge just this week;
  • The Emerge program has supported the creation of more than 3,500 jobs, including 300 new jobs at fast-growing biotech company Genmab, which was just approved this week;
  • The governor and Legislature have appropriated (or proposed for funding) more than a quarter of a billion dollars to support small businesses in New Jersey since 2021 — which already has helped more than 4,000 small and microbusinesses throughout the state. And that’s on top of nearly $700 million of direct COVID relief to small businesses.
  • The EDA has stood up more than 60 new programs during the governor’s time in office — including significant investments in manufacturing, child care, clean energy and cannabis.

These initiatives are just a few of the many historic investments the governor has made to bolster New Jersey’s economy.

Since 2018, the governor also has invested in the fundamentals of economic growth — including K-12 education to fund our No. 1 public school system (by far, the biggest magnet for talent that companies depend on), higher education (training the future workforce) and infrastructure (transporting goods and people across the state) — while maintaining a commitment to fiscal discipline through four full pension payments and robust surpluses (leading to seven credit upgrades since 2021).

The results are evident in a look at any objective data for major economic indicators — despite periodic claims, without evidence, that people and businesses are fleeing New Jersey.

  • New Jersey’s population is growing (9.3 million in 2023, up from 8.9 million in 2018);
  • New Jersey is adding jobs (4.37 million in 2023, up from 4.18 million in 2018, despite the pandemic impact);
  • New Jersey’s economy is growing (Gross Domestic Product in 2023 was estimated to be $659 billion, up from $606 billion in 2018);
  • New Jersey has more small businesses today than ever before — with more than 60,000 new small businesses added since 2018;
  • Median household income — among the highest in the nation — has grown to $92,000 in 2022 (the last year for which there is available data), from $74,000 in 2018;
  • Median new house prices have grown more than 10% since 2018 as demand for New Jersey continues to surge.

The budget process will, as always, feature robust debate about New Jersey’s future. And, perhaps more than any other state in the country, New Jersey benefits from a surplus of strong opinions. But, let’s keep the facts in mind as this debate plays out over the next few months, remembering our shared commitment to building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy.

Tim Sullivan is the CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.