Middlesex County 2017 Economic Outlook

Bloustein Dean James Hughes Reprises His Role as Economic Soothsayer

Dean James Hughes of Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy provided an economic outlook for Middlesex County in 2017 and beyond last month. Hughes was the featured speaker at the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual economic outlook series.

This year's event took place at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick.

"At 91 months, we’re now in the fourth largest economic expansion in the nation’s history," Hughes said, but added that there remained lingering effects of the homeownership crisis. "This is the single longest correction in our nation’s history."

Hughes also pointed to changes in development trends, ones that focus more toward urban centers. He also noted that Millennials have supplanted Baby Boomers as the most dominant age demographic, which has contributed to the state's more urban-centric trend.

"Brick and Mortar used to be transactional, but now they’re experiential," he said, illustrating the changing dynamic of downtowns as places to socialize rather than simply as places to shop.

The bottom line, Hughes said, is that "2017 will be a good year." He noted that a major driver of that success is the state's immigration numbers, which have been an economic driver in the state. "If we didn’t have that we would be slipping farther and farther behind."

"There are so many pieces to the puzzle when it comes to continuing a successful and robust economic landscape here in Middlesex County," said Lina Llona, president, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We look to leaders like Dean Hughes for providing a big picture policy perspective so we can take his insights and act locally," she added.