The largest industries driving New Jersey’s economy are pharmaceuticals and life sciences, financial services, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and transportation and logistics. Nineteen Fortune 500 companies are based in New Jersey, four of which are Fortune 100 companies [1].

1) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences

Life Sciences is a growing sector in New Jersey, which is evidenced by its employment trend. New Jersey’s Life Sciences employment in 2016 for New Jersey has three primary components: pharmaceuticals (40.8%), biotechnology-R&D (38.5%) and medical device manufacturing (20.7%) [1]. 

The sector employed an average of 117,260 or 3.5% of all private sector workers in the state for 2016. From 2011 to 2016, New Jersey’s drug and pharmaceutical component grew by 10.5%. Pharmaceutical industry leaders that are based in New Jersey include Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceutical, Bristol Myers Squib Company and Johnson & Johnson [1] . 

For the pharmaceuticals industry, annual average wages increased by 9.4% from $134,720 in 2011 to $147,440 in 2016. [1]

Teaching hospitals, research institutions and clinical trial assets are all attractive for these biopharmaceutical developers. Becton Dickinson and Stryker Corporation also have a presence in New Jersey. The state has the largest concentration of scientists and engineers per square mile in the U.S. with more than 225,000 residing within its borders. New Jersey’s strong public education and post-secondary institutions are a major factor contributing to the presence of highly qualified research talents. 

New Jersey has almost 1.3 million residents older than 65 years comprising close to 15% of the total population [2], which is above the national average. These demographics have a positive impact on demand for health care services, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts home health care services will outpace other large verticals. Home health services are projected by the New Jersey Department of Labor as one of the fastest-growing industries in the state. From 2014 to 2024, home health care is expected to add 85,300 jobs, an annual increase of 1.7% [3]

2) Financial Services

New Jersey is an attractive base for financial services firms due to population density and proximity to New York City. Prudential and Chubb both keep headquarters in New Jersey, and many other major banks have operations close to New York or Philadelphia. Several large data centers that serve New York financial clients are also located in the state. With 179,000 employees in 2016, financial services account for 6% of total employment in New Jersey and contributes $30 billion to the state economy [4]. 

3) Advanced Manufacturing

There were over 5,450 advanced manufacturing establishments in New Jersey employing close to 159,500 people in the advanced manufacturing sector in 2016. The advanced manufacturing industry sector accounted for approximately $34 billion of state GDP in 2016, close to 6.8% of all output. In 2016, New Jersey ranked fifth among states for chemical manufacturing after California, Texas, Illinois and Ohio. Chemical manufacturing is the largest segment of advanced manufacturing in the state. Close to two-thirds of all manufacturing industry employment in the state is considered advanced. The average wage of workers in this sector are well above the state private sector average for 2016 of $62,000, and advanced manufacturing employers paid approximately 6.6 percent of all state wages. Since 1990, this sector has experienced job losses, but these losses are expected to stabilize from now until 2024 [5] indicating a growing sector.

4) Information Technology

New Jersey is a hub of innovation and home to advanced industries such as the technology industry. It employs over 360,000 workers, providing almost 10% of state private sector jobs and contributes $43 billion in wages [6]. New Jersey's technology sector includes 31 different industries such as oil and gas extraction, power, petroleum and coal products manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, communications equipment manufacturing, software publishers and computer systems design. From 2006 to 2016, employment in the sector reached its highest in 2007 at close to 390,000 and then declined during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. Employment has been on the rise since 2012, and this trend is likely to continue because of a strong labor market and business and consumer confidence [6].

5) Transportation and Logistics

Spending on infrastructure improvements has been driving employment in New Jersey, particularly among civil engineers. Industry experts at NAIOP New Jersey’s Annual Transportation and Logistics Update in 2016 highlighted plans to update the state's transportation system including the port, roads, and bridges. A  new Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) budget is expected to generate $16 billion from 2016 to 2024. In 2017, NJDOT and NJ Transit were to share a total of $3.7 billion in state and federal funding. NJ Transit budgeted $1.7 billion for a positive train control system to be completed by the end of 2018, and $200 million was earmarked for new buses, rail cars and light rail vehicles.

Regarding the port, Bethann Rooney, assistant director of Port Performance Initiatives at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, stated that two-thirds of the port’s cargo is on 8,000 TEU ships, but this was to increase to 10 to 12,000 TEU’s when the Bayonne Bridge is complete [7]. The NJ Department of Labor expects civil engineering to be one of the fastest-growing industries, rising from employment of 16,600 in 2010 to 20,900 in 2020 [8].

Investment in New Jersey is evident. The American Dream project is a three million square foot entertainment, retail and dining complex costing $5 billion and that will generate 23,000 jobs during construction alone. It is just one example of investment in the state of New Jersey. The project should create 16,000 permanent new jobs on site and over 6,700 jobs in the surrounding communities to provide over $1.2 billion in annual compensation. The site is set to open in 2019 [9]. This and similar investment projects will encourage growth in the states leading industries.

[8] https://www.democraticunderground.com/10661277 (see last sentence under "Construction")