The severe economic slump that has dragged on for five years so far has cost many employees their jobs, and many who kept their jobs have seen their real earnings fall as companies froze or even cut their wages.

Some people who can’t find a job go to college to prepare for a change in careers. They might want to consider trying to make a college their employer rather than their higher educator.

While many private companies have cut back dramatically since the severe recession that began in 2008, New Jersey’s colleges and universities have plowed ahead as if the downturn almost didn’t exist.

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Colleges in the state now have bigger annual payrolls, more employees and pay higher average wages than before the economic collapse.

From 2007 to 2011, the state’s colleges added 5,176 employees for total employment of 58,372, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

The total payroll of the colleges in the state jumped 17 percent from $2.99 billion in 2007 to $3.51 billion. That’s more than double the U.S. inflation rate of 8 percent for the same period.

No surprise, then, that the average annual wage for college employees in New Jersey through the downturn has risen from $56,241 in 2007 to $60,046.

College as an industry, a retail seller of advanced education and a place to work, looks like it belongs among the so-called recession-proof industries of health care and vices such as alcohol and tobacco.

South Asian market

If they’re not deterred by the storm damage, more than 150 business people are expected in Atlantic City on Nov. 16 to learn about how to reach the large market of South Asians in North America.

Avani Shah, senior vice president of A&M Lobby Shop of Chicago, which is holding the conference at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, said the 2.2 million North Americans from India alone spend $20 billion a year.

The AMX Taj Conference will also focus on immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh, she said.

“We are reaching out to small- and medium-sized businesses that are looking to reach the South Asian market, organizations that are focused on ethnic best marketing practices,” Shah said.

Among presenters at the one-day conference will be Leesa Eichberger, vice president of marketing for Vonage, Shah said.

“She’ll be speaking about successfully leveraging your brand message to target ethnic markets,” she said.

The keynote address will be by Frank Piotrowski, of the Nielsen Co. media ratings firm, who will provide an overview of the Asian market today, Shah said.

As of Wednesday, seven exhibitors had signed up for the 10 spaces available at the conference, she said.

The conference is open to the public and the discounted cost to attend is $495. Anyone who wants to attend must register by Saturday online at

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