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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000
ECONOMIC VITALITY
GOAL: An economy that is competitive, diverse, and attractive to business; that maintains and expands assets and capital; that provides a variety of entry- , middle-, and high-level jobs; and that promotes the well-being of New Jersey’s communities and its workforce.
New Jersey’s economy is the "fuel" that drives almost everything else that happens in the state. It shapes our environment and enriches our social and cultural offerings. Our state’s economy underwent a major transition in the latter half of the 20th century, moving away from dependence on manufacturing and toward a more varied mix of advanced technology and service industries. While New Jersey ranks ninth among the states in population and 45th in size, we outperform those ranks in several key categories: we have the seventh largest number of Fortune 500 companies, the second highest average income in the nation, and we place fifth in the number of patents received. Amid this abundance of wealth and productivity, we also have significant disparities between our rich and poor citizens.

What we know

Income increasing

Unemployment cyclical

Productivity increasing

Poverty cyclical

Gross State Product (GSP) increasing

Energy efficiency increasing

What we don't know

• Measuring overall growth is less meaningful if we can’t differentiate between the positive and negative components of that growth. We do not know the proportion of economic growth that comes from people buying things that they wish they didn’t need - such as security systems for their homes, cigarettes, health care, or automobile repairs after an accident - or buying them at higher cost to cover expenses like pollution cleanup.

• Some aspects of our growing state economy are hard to measure, such as the disparity of opportunities among New Jerseyans.

• The proportion of our economic growth that comes from a drawing down of our "natural capital" - the environmental resources consumed for free that are not restored, such as woodland cleared for new houses or offices.

• The proportion of our economy that depends on the unsustainable use of fossil fuels, which cannot be replenished.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 25, 2007

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