Notable job gains in two very different fields - finance/banking and food/hotel services - led to the creation of over a thousand new jobs locally in 2006.
Finance and food
According to Walter Nyakanga, a labor market analyst for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, finance is the fastest growing sector in Hudson County's labor market. He said that more than 35,650 residents were employed in various financial services occupations in 2005, and that those numbers are continuing to grow.
This expansion was evident in the number of banks that have opened branches across the state. Elizabeth Spinelli, Director of the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation, said that growth in the banking industry has come to be expected in Hudson County.
"Finance is usually the sector with the most growth," Spinelli said.
Additionally, Nyakanga said that the food services and accommodations industry gained many new jobs during the first three quarters of 2006. He listed Chipotle Mexican Grill in Secaucus and Applebee's in Jersey City as some of the national chain restaurants that opened in the area, contributing to the creation of more than 200 jobs.
Bank of NY converts to Chase, hires 130
In Bayonne, for example, a number of banks, restaurants and stores have opened up, bringing 500 new jobs to the area in 2006 alone. More establishments are likely to open with the massive development scheduled for the former Military Ocean Terminal.
At the South Cove Commons Mall, Houlihan's, A.J. Wright's and Staples are three large new employers, expanding the number of employees to more than 180.
Washington Mutual, Citibank and Chase Manhattan have also all opened branches in Bayonne within the past year.
Chase opened its branch at 439 Broadway on Dec. 18 with eight permanent employees, and the company already has branches in Hoboken and Jersey City.
Michael Fusco, a spokesman for Chase, said, "We want to be where our customers work and live for convenience."
Fusco said Chase will hire 130 new personal bankers in New Jersey and in Rockland County, N.Y. this spring, as part of a hiring push for 485 new personal bankers throughout the tri-state area.
Two-thirds of the new hires will be working at local branches of the Bank of New York after they convert to Chase branches in Mid-April.
Hudson County is set to benefit from that hiring push, as eight Hudson County Bank of New York branches will be converted to Chase banks: Jersey City, Kearny, North Bergen, Union City, Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, and Harmon Meadow, Harmon Tower, and Harmon Cove in Secaucus.
"After the spring conversion, customers will be able to access more than 800 branches in the tri-state area," said Fusco.
Many of the new jobs in Hudson County - in Bayonne in particular - have been created through New Jersey's Urban Enterprise Zone program.
The Urban Enterprise Zone program encourages the redevelopment of the state's urban areas through a number of financial benefits for companies creating jobs within urban areas. Businesses in those zones charge a small sales tax of 3.5 percent and are able to put some of the money back into the business district in the form of improvements.
"A lot of them are small businesses and retail, but some are big chains," said Karen Wolfe of the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Committee.
Since 1984, the program has been instrumental in the urban revitalization and economic growth for many Hudson County cities.
Wolfe said that the state has 32 Urban Enterprise Zones in 37 municipalities. The program has helped create 157,000 full-time jobs within the zones since its creation 23 years ago.
Big stores in North Bergen
North Bergen is experiencing significant growth in the retail sector, and the recent opening of a Home Depot on Tonnelle Avenue is an indicator of that expansion. The store opened on Feb. 1 and has 150 associates, according to Tia Robinson, of the company's northern division. Robinson said that the home improvement chain has 65 stores across New Jersey, and that they will be hiring 1,800 new employees throughout the state this spring. "It's a national spring hiring," Robinson said. "Typically the spring season is the busy season due to the nature of home improvement."
She said that all stores, including the one in North Bergen, will be hiring full, part-time and seasonal employees.
The former APA Trucking Co. property, located at Tonnelle Avenue and 88th Street, is a site of future development for the city. The lot is still in the works of becoming a shopping center. Although representatives for property owner Vornado Realty Trust would not comment on the project's progress, the real estate company's website says that the future shopping center will encompass over 40 acres and 440,706 square feet of retail space. Discount stores Wal-Mart and BJ's are listed as confirmed tenants.
Building Jersey City's workforce
In Jersey City, the City Council has created another type of program to stimulate job growth in the area -legislation that mandates the hiring of local residents.
On Feb. 14 the council introduced an ordinance establishing an apprentice program for Jersey City residents, with a focus on minorities, involved in local construction projects. It requires that 20 percent of the work on the projects be conducted by union apprentices. The program would teach the apprentices a trade that could lead to a higher-paying union job further down the line.
Additionally, the proposed legislation calls for developers getting tax abatements on projects costing more than $15 million and city government-based projects costing more than $5 million to only use union labor.
Marketing, web design, and creative
While the construction and finance industries have been big employers in Hudson County for the past couple of years, office and administrative support jobs have added a significant number of opportunities to the job market.
"A lot of large companies that have moved into Hudson County have really boosted the economy," said Jason Keller, manager of The Boss Group, a national staffing agency in Rutherford that works with creative and marketing professionals.
Keller said that the large number of companies with corporate headquarters in North Jersey have created a need for these types of creative support professionals.
"We have over 3,000 registered talent and 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in the area," said Keller.
He listed M-2 Communications, John Wiley & Sons, CGI and Lehman Brothers as some of the companies that have offices in Hudson County and work with The Boss Group.
"We do a lot of work in the Jersey City and Hoboken areas," Keller added. He said that in these two cities, as well as most of Hudson County, the biggest demand is for graphic design and editorial talent.
"The hottest thing right now is web design, said Keller. "FLASH designers are gold. Even the smallest of companies need FLASH designers to come in and incorporate motion into their websites."
According to a January 2007 report issued by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, job growth in the Northern Region of the state, which includes Hudson County, is expected to be somewhat modest in 2007.
However, the January 2007 edition of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Annual Review and Outlook Series does say that some segments of the job market are expected to expand. These include health and social services, local government, and retail trade.