According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, New Jersey had the eighth-largest economy of the 50 states as measured by gross domestic product as of July 2016. The state’s current-dollar GDP was $584.2 billion in July 2016, 3.2 percent of the total national GDP.
Since its early colonial settlement, New Jersey’s economy has evolved from farming and trade to manufacturing and, most recently, to reliance on service and technology-based industries. More recent economic trends have seen the growth of technology-based manufacturing industries in electronics, computers and medical devices. Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers also have grown as major sources of employment. Many of these industries are present in Burlington and Ocean counties.
Burlington County dubs itself a rare blend of opposites: Farmland and new technology, mega retail centers and quaint main street shops, super highways and peaceful hiking trails all have their place in the region. The county works hard to protect its history while nurturing the future. A major aspect of that is an emphasis on farming. Considered a leading agricultural county in the United States, Burlington County has more acres devoted to farming than any other county in New Jersey. The county is the second-largest blueberry producer and the third-largest cranberry producer in the nation. Economic development extends to retail centers too. The county’s award-winning RiverRoute initiative, launched in 1995, has seen historic results in revitalizing the region’s Route 130/Delaware River corridor. Overall, healthcare and social assistance employ the most people total in the county.
Ocean County is home to one-third of the Jersey Shore bordering the Atlantic Ocean, and development and tourism related to the beaches has been long established. However, Ocean County’s economic base has become increasingly diverse, with a variety of industries now supplementing traditional tourist-related businesses. The health care industry has been by far the fastest growing employment sector and is now the top total employer in the county.
The median age in both counties is about 40 years old. Median household income in Burlington County is $80,034 and $63,108 in Ocean County, according to the U.S Census Bureau. The state’s income tax rate ranges from 5.525 to 8.97 percent.
The key elements of the freight transportation system in New Jersey include extensive road and rail systems, along with several significant maritime terminals and distribution center complexes. Without a major airport in the region, air cargo primarily moves through Philadelphia International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
All three major toll roads within New Jersey traverse the southern region of the state. The New Jersey Turnpike runs through four counties (including Burlington County), and it is the primary limited-access highway between New York and points south, connecting to Delaware via Interstate 295 and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The Atlantic City Expressway serves as the only limited-access highway between Route 42 and points east to Atlantic City. The Garden State Parkway is the primary limited-access highway between New York and New Jersey shore points, and it provides at least four travel lanes throughout southern New Jersey. These three major interstate routes provide key links between major port facilities and distribution centers within South Jersey. Further, these routes are the major links for goods moving out of New Jersey into Pennsylvania and Delaware.
New Jersey is abundant with forests, water and minerals, and these natural assets can be found throughout Burlington and Ocean counties. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Jersey has more than 2.1 million acres of forests. Much of that has been protected in national and state forests, which encourage tourism related to hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. The coastline of the Atlantic Ocean boosts the state’s economy through shipping and resorts. The state is also rich in minerals, including clay, peat, stone, sand and gravel; it’s the only state that produces marl soil, used by farmers for fertilization.
Drawing on its agricultural history, Burlington County makes specific effort to maintain and support the county’s farming industry. Much of the rest of the county’s land is protected. A comprehensive land preservation program ensures that 25,000 acres of farmlands and about 3,500 acres of open space are protected. About three-fifths of the county is within the National Pinelands Reserve, where development is restricted. However, the banks of the Delaware River continue to support a manufacturing industry.
Ocean County is one of four state counties bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The county’s coastal beaches are foremost among its tourist attractions and continue to draw thousands of seasonal visitors annually. More inland, Ocean County also maintains a vast amount of protected open space, including large tracts of state parks, forests and wildlife management areas.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
According to the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the nation’s only tri-service base, is the second-largest employer in the entire state. The base reportedly has a $6.9 billion impact on the regional economy. More than 42,000 people — including active duty, National Guard and Reserve, civilian employees, contractors and family members — are on the base daily. There are also 62,000 retirees in the region.