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The Best Places in New Jersey for Job Seekers

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As New Jersey’s economy is recovering, many job seekers are looking for employment opportunities. New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development has a Jobs4Jersey program to help job seekers find the assistance they need; however, certain places have more opportunity than others. To help, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in New Jersey by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
  2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably? We looked at a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

For more information, check out our cost of living calculator here.

The Best Places in New Jersey for Job Seekers

1.     Hoboken

Hoboken is in Hudson County and is located across the Hudson River from New York City. Residents have easy access to a vibrant main street, family-friendly parks and plenty of dining and shopping options. Additionally, Walk Score named Hoboken a walker’s paradise. The city saw a 15.7 percent increase in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in August 2013. Top employers include John Wiley & Sons, Marsh USA and Hoboken University Medical Center. Hoboken is home to Stevens Institute of Technology, which was ranked by the Princeton Review as the 13th best school in the nation for career services. Starting from their first semester, students have access to career-planning workshops, corporate-site visits and other on-campus recruiting opportunities.

2.     Lakewood CDP

Lakewood CDP is a part of Lakewood Township, located in Ocean County in central New Jersey. Between 2009 and 2011, Lakewood saw 19.1 percent growth in the working-age population, and its unemployment rate was only 6.7 percent. Ocean County’s top employers include Barnabas Health, Anchor Auto Lease and DPT. Lakewood is home to the Ocean County chapter of the Arc, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including job-search assistance. Lakewood is home to Georgian Court University, a top employer in the city. The university’s Office of Career Development and Experiential Learning Services helps students make career decisions, develop job-search skills and find internships and part-time jobs.

3.     Paramus

Paramus is located in Bergen County, in northeastern New Jersey. It is known as a top shopping destination, with three major malls, including the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall. Households in Paramus earned a median income of $104,105 while its unemployment rate was low, at 6.9 percent. Rosica is a PR and marketing firm headquartered in Paramus, and Bergen Regional Medical Center is a top employer in the region. Bergen Community College provides career resources and experiential learning opportunities at the Center for Student Success.

4.     Ridgewood

Located in Bergen County, Ridgewood is approximately 20 miles north of New York City. Ridgewood saw a 2.7 percent increase in the working-age population from 2009 to 2011, and households earn a median income of $154,348 in 2011, the highest on the list. Additionally, the unemployment rate in August 2013 was only 5.4 percent. Valley Health Systems is a large employer in the region. Bergen County’s Economic Development Corporation provides local businesses the information and resources necessary to expand.

5.     New Brunswick

New Brunswick is the seat of Middlesex County, 27 miles southwest of New York City. New Brunswick is known as “the Healthcare City” due to the many medical facilities in town, including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peter’s University Hospital and Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide headquarters are located in New Brunswick. The city saw a 9.2 percent increase in its working-age population between 2009 and 2011. New Brunswick is home to Rutgers University, which has a dedicated University Career Services office to help students and alumni locate their job strengths, plan a career path and gain introductions to career opportunities.

6.     Freehold Borough

Freehold Borough is located in Monmouth County, and its downtown has been a gathering place for western Monmouth County for over two centuries. From 2009 to 2011, Freehold saw a 5.6 percent increase in the working-age population, and the town’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent was below the state and national average. Monmouth County’s largest employers include Saker ShopRites, CentraState Healthcare System and Meridian Health. Nearby in Lincroft, Brookdale Community College provides adult education for those seeking to complete their GED, English as a second language programs and other assistance. They even have a Children’s Learning Center to take care of students’ children at a discounted rate.

7.     Fair Lawn

Located in northeastern New Jersey, Fair Lawn is a part of Bergen County and the New York City metropolitan area. Fair Lawn saw 5.3 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and households in the city made $95,725 in 2011. Major employers in Bergen County include Hackensack University Medical Center, Bio-Reference Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics. Seven miles away, in Hackensack, is a One-Stop Career Center that helps job seekers explore career options, attend job readiness workshops and find additional training in vocational and trade schools

8.     Woodbridge CDP

Woodbridge CDP is located in Middlesex County, near Staten Island. The city offers recreational space for residents at the Woodbridge Community Center, which is home to roller- and ice-skating rinks, a pool and even a childcare center. The city saw a 3.6 percent increase in the working-age population from 2009 to 2011, and households earned a median income of $78,446 in 2011. Wakefern Food Corporation is headquartered in Keasbey, located in the Woodbridge Township area. Additionally, Hess Corporation, an oil company, has a regional headquarters in Woodbridge. The Woodbridge Metro Chamber of Commerce serves as a way to bring all local businesses in the area together to grow the region’s economic power.

9.     Cherry Hill Mall CDP

Part of Camden County, Cherry Hill Mall CDP is a part of Cherry Hill Township and is located in southwestern New Jersey, in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Cherry Hill Mall’s households earned a median income of $83,849 in 2011 while the city’s unemployment rate was just 6.7 percent in August 2013. Camden County’s major employers include The Campbell Soup Company, Kennedy Health System and Alliance Data Systems. Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the Delaware Valley and provides online resources for job seekers through the Workforce New Jersey program.

10.  Bergenfield

Located in Bergen County in northeastern New Jersey, Bergenfield is in the New York City metropolitan area. The city saw a 4.2 percent increase in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its households’ median income in 2011 was $86,191. Large employers in Bergen County include Quest Diagnostics, Unilever and Holy Name Hospital. The Hackensack Regional Chamber of Commerce has a special program for college students that provides internships, job-shadowing opportunities and mentors to help students gain the necessary experience to obtain a job.

Rank City Nearest Big City Working-Age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Hoboken New York City 15.7% $104,789 $3,222 4.4% 78.6
2 Lakewood CDP - 19.1% $36,079 $2,426 6.7% 70.7
3 Paramus New York City 1.1% $104,105 $1,845 6.9% 67.8
4 Ridgewood New York City 2.7% $154,348 $3,986 5.4% 67.4
5 New Brunswick New York City 9.2% $40,528 $1,992 7.5% 63.6
6 Freehold Borough - 5.6% $52,641 $2,204 6.7% 63.2
7 Fair Lawn New York City 5.3% $95,725 $2,827 7.8% 62.0
8 Woodbridge CDP New York City 3.6% $78,446 $2,201 8.0% 61.5
9 Cherry Hill Mall CDP Philadelphia -0.4% $83,849 $2,386 6.7% 61.4
10 Bergenfield New York City 4.2% $86,191 $2,890 7.3% 60.8
11 Fort Lee New York City -2.0% $69,911 $2,374 6.0% 60.2
12 Gloucester City Philadelphia 0.4% $52,265 $1,451 8.0% 59.8
13 Franklin New York City 0.1% $68,534 $2,003 7.6% 59.6
14 Old Bridge CDP New York City -2.4% $95,188 $2,491 7.5% 58.4
15 Sayreville New York City 1.3% $73,937 $2,310 8.1% 58.1

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

48 communities designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 25,000 were considered.

Photo Credit: New Jersey Skyline by Imperial94

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