Job growth is improving throughout the country and the state, and in Mercer County, the private-sector job growth in 2011 exceeded the rest of New Jersey, giving the county excellent momentum for the first quarter of 2012. The county’s mix of sectors, including pharmaceutical companies, colleges, health care, and technology, contributes to the area’s performance, according to economist James W. Hughes of Rutgers University, who spoke at the recent Mercer County Economic Summit.

Leading the growth is the health care sector, including Novo Nordisk, which continues to expand, and the Route 1 office corridor, he said. In 2010, there was both stability and modest growth in private-sector employment in New Jersey, with the addition of just 10,200 jobs; 2011 was even better, according to Hughes, with 33,400 jobs added, the best year for private-sector employment growth since 2000, when the state added 64,500 jobs.

Even though New Jersey is experiencing a solid recovery, the state’s current deficit is still 174,000 jobs from its pre-recession peak. The recession, which began in December 2007, lasted until June 2009, according to Hughes, and between 2003 and 2007, New Jersey saw a “very modest gain” of only 80,000 jobs, marking the four-year period as one of the weakest economic expansions in the state’s history.

These facts and figures mean that now is an excellent time for businesses to consider purchasing property or leasing new or additional space, according to Jerry Fennelly of Fennelly Associates, commercial real estate brokers in Hamilton.

“Commercial real estate is experiencing an increase in sale closings, with $140 billion in 2010 and $193 billion in 2011, an increase of 27 percent on a national level,” says Fennelly. The greater Princeton area experienced growth in the financial markets, consumer, and pharmaceutical areas in 2011, and a number of large corporations in the area either leased or purchased additional space, including Novo Nordisk, Church & Dwight, and BlackRock. The biopharma sector in particular reported stronger results with increases in space by a number of companies.

The internet, software, media, and electronics category also showed positive signs with 96,511 square feet of growth, due in part to the expansion of Princeton Power Systems. The medical sector grew by 55,000 square feet in 2011. The average growth per transaction edged up to 3,600 square feet, a 22 percent increase over 2010.

“Right now money is available and inexpensive, and real estate is available and inexpensive,” says Fennelly. “The commercial real estate market is literally changing on a monthly basis.”

“Right now the demand is up and the supply is heading down,” says Fennelly. “For investors, that means that there is potential for growth in both rents and in property values. It’s a great time to grown in New Jersey, especially in Mercer County, because we offer a great location and great value.”

NAI Fennelly. 609-520-0061. www.fennelly.com

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