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Economy lags, Christie polls sag


APRIL 26, 2015, 10:58 PM    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015, 11:02 PM

With New Jersey’s stubbornly high unemployment rate ranked seventh highest in the country, Governor Christie’s aspirations for higher office were always going to be weighed down by the state economy.

Though down sharply from the high point he hit in national polls after his reelection with 61 percent of the vote in 2013, Christie has not been counted out by presidential campaign veterans such as Arizona’s Sen. John McCain because of his ability to connect personally with voters, especially in early primary states where that kind of touch really matters.

But a report released last week by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee shows just how bad things are in the Garden State, compared with other states whose governors, or former governors, are also considering bids for the Republican presidential nomination.

New Jersey has logged a 5.6 percent increase in private-sector jobs since the economic low point of February 2010, but the increase has been 7.8 percent in Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, 9.7 percent in Gov. John Kasich’s Ohio, and a whopping 18 percent in Texas, where Rick Perry just left the governor’s mansion.

As for gross domestic product, New Jersey’s has grown by an average of 1 percent a year since 2009, compared with 1.8 percent in Wisconsin, 2.5 percent in Ohio and 4.4 percent in Texas. New Jersey’s recovery also trails Florida’s and Arkansas’, but Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee had already left the governors’ offices for the time periods being compared.