Rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy may help New Jersey's economy, report says
New Jersey’s storm-battered economy may modestly benefit from Hurricane Sandy reconstruction if federal funding and private insurers cover $25 billion in damages, according to a Rutgers University analysis released Monday.
The state’s gross domestic product dropped $7 billion in the fourth quarter, with 4,200 jobs lost and an $82 million dip in state tax revenue, says the report, authored by economists at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
But the recovery through 2015 may raise the state’s economic output and add 12,000 more jobs over those three years, the analysis says.
In particular, 2014 could have the biggest employment jump tied to restoration, with 5,600 jobs.
The report preceded today’s scheduled vote in Congress for about $51 billion in federal aid to Hurricane Sandy-affected states.
The Rutgers study hinges on New Jersey receiving $25 billion to spend on rebuilding, including but not limited to Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.
“Clearly the federal support pending in Congress now is the key element,” said Joseph Seneca, a Rutgers economist and an author of the study.
A $9.7 billion package to cover National Flood Insurance Program claims before the program ran out of money was passed Jan. 4.
The growth following Hurricane Sandy would follow a similar path of disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, Seneca said.
“It’s a complicated analysis, but it follows the pattern we’ve historically seen in other major natural catastrophes — a sharp and immediate hit to the state’s economy and then a bounce back that’s related to the expenditures,” Seneca said. “But our bounce back we get is totally conditional on receiving the amount of restoration aid.”
New Jersey’s tourism industry, particularly in Ocean and Monmouth counties, may take a hit this year — the state may lose almost $1 billion of its annual $38 billion tourism industry, the report says.
Meanwhile, rebuilding from the storm may give a boost to specific industries, namely construction, real estate, finance, engineering and design.
The Rutgers study touches on the sensitivity of gauging loses and gains from a hurricane that destroyed homes, businesses and livelihoods along New Jersey’s coast.
“We’re not saying the storm was a good thing or benefitted New Jersey,” Seneca said. “This is the impact on the macroeconomic level of output and employment and state taxes. The storm was deadly, dangerous and destructive.”
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