Phil is committed to building a stronger and fairer economy for every New Jersey family. First and foremost, he will focus on helping all New Jersey residents find secure and meaningful work. Over the past eight years, Kim Guadagno stood by as Chris Christie chose to provide lavish corporate tax breaks rather than making investments in our future. As a result, New Jersey was one of just a handful of states to see a decline in median household income. 2015 was the best year on record for income growth nationally, but again New Jersey under Christie and Guadagno’s leadership finished dead last. Plain and simple, as the nation recovered from the Great Recession, New Jerseyans continued to fall further and further behind.
The same can be said for employment trends during the Christie-Guadagno Administration. We continue to endure a long-term unemployment crisis. We still have one of the country’s highest underemployment rates, and our labor force participation rate just hit a ten-year low. And tragically, our state has led the nation in veterans’ unemployment.
The Christie-Guadagno Administration has failed to grow our economy. They have chosen to hand out lavish corporate tax breaks rather than make investments in our future. The billions of dollars that Christie and Guadagno have doled out in corporate welfare match, nearly to the dollar, the amount by which they have underfunded our public schools. New Jersey now spends over five times what similar states do for job creation and retention. All the while, our sluggish economy has caused us to miss out on $20 to $50 billion of annual economic activity. We need new leadership focused on building a workforce for a 21st century economy.
Plain and simple, we don’t get New Jersey right unless we get the economy right. This will be Phil’s central focus as governor. In 2015, Phil teamed up with the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University to launch the New Start Career Network. He drew on his economic experience to help long-term unemployed residents get back on their feet — and thousands of residents have now benefited from this program. As governor, Phil will partner with the state’s unions, employers, and educators to create clear pathways for lifelong learning and good jobs. He will:
- Push for free community college. Phil knows that our state’s success has always depended on access to education. Today, too many job seekers cannot afford to learn the skills they need for our highly-competitive global economy. Phil will make sure that every New Jerseyan has access to an associate’s degree, whether they are just leaving high school or looking for a new career.
- Prepare students for the new economy. New Jersey’s current workforce development programs are lagging at all levels. Our vocational schools are oversubscribed and their equipment is out of date. Phil will support their expansion and modernization, and launch a “Computer Science for all” initiative to provide every public school student access to coding skills.
- Make job training work. As the former Ambassador to Germany, Phil saw the world’s leading skills-development and apprenticeship programs. New Jersey, on the other hand, trails both other advanced countries and the rest of the US in apprenticeship enrollment. Phil will turn our state around by restructuring workforce funding to promote effective and innovative models of on-the-job training. He will make sure that New Jersey assertively helps job seekers learn whatever skills they need.
- Make job training inclusive. Phil will make sure that good jobs are open to all residents. He will create programs that assist individuals with disabilities and ease re-entry for the formerly imprisoned. He will also work to close employment gaps in fields that have traditionally been inhospitable to women and minorities, including technology and the trades.
- Support New Jersey’s essential industries, including clean energy and climate resilience. New Jersey should be a national leader for growing industries like healthcare, biotechnology, logistics, and advanced manufacturing. Phil will make sure that employers in these fields can hire qualified candidates and that entrepreneurs can start new, high-growth businesses. He will also steer the state to prioritize industries that reflect our values. This means building a green economy and creating a sustainable future.