Forecasters now expect a stronger U.S. economy this year and a slightly better jobs market, according to a survey released Friday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
A separate Richard Stockton College review predicts a weak year for southern New Jersey's economy, and its author said the region's best hope is for a robust tourism season driven by an improving national economy.
The 42 economists in the Survey of Professional Forecasters across the nation expect growth this year of 3 percent, up from their November prediction of 2.4 percent.
Unemployment is forecast to average 9.8 percent for 2010, slightly better than the 10 percent previously predicted, and to fall to 9.2 percent in 2011.
The forecasters expect job creation to take off in the spring, averaging just 600 new nonfarm jobs a month in the first quarter but soaring to 117,600 jobs a month in the second quarter.
A slight slowing of the U.S. economy is expected in 2011, with 2.9 percent growth and 142,000 new jobs per month.
Stockton's South Jersey Economic Review said the Atlantic City metropolitan area has lost 9,700 or 6.5 percent of its jobs since the recession began. That is worse than the state (4.3 percent loss) and nation (5.2 percent loss), and the largest percentage loss for an area in the state except for Ocean City (which lost 7.7 percent of jobs).
The region's economy "will remain very weak over the coming year" and "ostensibly faces an acute job crisis," the report said, since two sectors that account for half of its jobs - casinos and government - will be hobbled by increased competition and budget shortfalls respectively.
Oliver Cooke, the assistant professor of economics who creates the quarterly report, said Thursday the best hope for a quick improvement is in tourism rebounding with the general economy.
"I think everyone should keep their fingers crossed that the shore does have a banner year in 2010," Cooke said.
He also said new jobs at a Boeing maintenance facility and a planned solar panel plant in Cumberland County will be very good news, depending on the ultimate number of hirings.