NJ consumer spending recovers from recession, but growth lags behind nation

Economic Indicators Associated Press

New Jersey's per-person consumer spending rose nearly 9 percent in the three years following the Great Recession, slightly less than the national average, according to new federal data released Thursday.

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The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which for the first time provided data on spending on a state-by-state basis, shows the Garden State's per-capita spending was $42,654 in 2012, up from $39,165 in 2009.

That increase was below the national average of 10.7 percent, and far eclipsed by states like North Dakota, where an oil boom helped boost spending 28 percent. The next-largest increases were seen in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.

Still, New Jersey's per capita spending in 2012 ranked among the highest in the nation and far above the national average of $35,459. Only residents in the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and North Dakota spent more.

Per-person spending in 2012 was highest in the District of Columbia at $59,423 and lowest in Mississippi, at $27,406.

In New Jersey, where housing costs are historically among the highest in the nation, consumers spent big on housing and utilities, paying an average of $8,861 a year — significantly more than the national average of $6,415. But residents here spent less than the national average in one major category: gasoline and other energy, with an average expenditure of $1,254 per person. That was $74 less than the national average.

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New Jersey has generally lagged behind the nation in its recovery from the recession, said Patrick O'Keefe, the director of economic research at the accounting firm CohnReznick. Consumer spending follows the same trend, he added.

"New Jersey has not recovered as robustly as the nation as a whole in terms of overall total output, the number of jobs, after-tax incomes and then ultimately consumer spending," he said.