Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Somerset Counties
These four counties form the Edison-New Brunswick metropolitan division of the New York metropolitan area. This metropolitan division comprises the northern segment of the Jersey shore and a swath of central New Jersey. This region has a population of just over 2.3 million, based on the 2010 Census. [The population residing in the 2nd District portion of this area—i.e., excluding Ocean County, which is part of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve District—is just under 1.8 million.] The metro area’s population grew by 7.7 percent over the last decade, compared with 4½ percent for New Jersey overall and nearly 10 percent nationwide. This region’s population is significantly more affluent and well-educated than the national average—and slightly more so than New Jersey as a whole. Still, there is a good deal of variation, with pockets of poverty persisting in a few of the cities.
The pharmaceuticals and telecom industries are key drivers of this area’s economy overall; securities-industry employment is also somewhat concentrated here, though not to nearly the same degree as in Hudson County or New York City. After expanding at a modest pace (about 1 percent per year, on average) during the last expansion (2002-07), employment in this area fell by roughly 6 percent during the 2008-09 downturn, roughly matching the statewide and nationwide declines. However, as job markets in the broader New York metro area, as well as the nation, began to recover in 2010, employment here continued to drift down, falling to a 10-year low at year end. Home prices in this area more than doubled during the 2000-06 housing boom but fell by roughly 20 percent between mid-2006 and early-2010, and edged down slightly further in the second half of 20101
Employment stagnated after its sharp decline during the recession. In late 2011 employment showed signs of small improvement from its trough in August 2011, but it has since weakened. As in much of New Jersey, this area sustained steep declines in government employment. Private-sector employment growth has barely been above zero. Some industries that appeared to be recovering in 2010-11, such as construction (specialty trade contractors) and retail, have shown job losses in the first half of 2012. In addition, the manufacturing and telecom industries have shown consistently negative job trends with no sign of improvement. However, there have been some gains in the health and education and the leisure and hospitality industries, but not nearly enough to offset the losses of the other industries. Home prices are down 25 percent from their 2006 peak.
Because there is fairly wide variation across the counties in this area, more detailed, individual profiles of the three counties in the Second (New York) District follow.
This is the most populous county within this metropolitan division, with 810,000 residents, based on the 2010 Census. It is largely urban and suburban and includes the cities of New Brunswick and Edison (the latter of which is technically a township). Its population grew by 8 percent between 2000 and 2010, slightly below the nationwide pace but well above the statewide average. This county has a sizable Asian population, accounting for more than 18 percent of residents (more than four times the nationwide average); in particular, a large number of residents are of Indian descent. Median household income was $76,000 in 2009, and nearly 38 percent of adults hold college degrees; both these figures are higher than for New Jersey as a whole and well above the nationwide levels. The median home price in Middlesex County (just under $360,000, as of 2009) is nearly twice as high as nationally but slightly below the state-wide median. Two-thirds of homes are owner-occupied, matching both the nationwide and statewide averages. Middlesex County is home to Rutgers University, which is the county’s largest employer. Other key industry sectors include telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
This county’s population increased by a modest 2½ percent between 2000 and 2010—well below the nationwide and statewide rates—reaching 630,000, based on the 2010 Census. However, there is also a sizable seasonal population, estimated at 200-300,000 additional people on a typical summer day2. Much of its population resides along the seacoast (“Jersey Shore”), including its two major cities: Long Branch and Asbury Park. Racially and ethnically, Monmouth County has a somewhat less diverse population that the nation and substantially less so than New Jersey as a whole. Median household income was $81,000 in 2009, and 39 percent of adults hold college degrees; both these figures are well above the nationwide levels and among the highest for New Jersey. The median home price in Monmouth County (just under $430,000, as of 2009) is more than twice as high as nationally and moderately above the state-wide median. Three in four homes are owner-occupied, compared with two in three nationwide and statewide. However, this county can best be characterized as mainly suburban in nature. Industries heavily concentrated here include telecommunications, and arts, entertainment and recreation. Most of the county’s major employers are health services establishments; prior to its recent shutdown, Fort Monmouth had been one of the major local employers.
This county is primarily suburban in nature; it does not include any major cities but does include the boroughs of North Plainfield, Somerset, Somerville, and Bound Brook. Its population is just over 320,000 based on the 2010 Census, up 8.7 percent from 2000—close to the nationwide average and roughly double New Jersey’s population growth over the decade. This is the most affluent and well-educated county in New Jersey: based on 2009 data, median household income is close to $97,000, and an exceptionally high 49 percent of adults hold college degrees. The median home value ($440,000 based on 2009 estimates) is also quite elevated, and nearly 80 percent of homes are owner-occupied.
The pharmaceuticals industry is highly concentrated in Somerset County; telecommunications, insurance, professional and technical services, and management of companies are also key industry sectors.
1Trends in home prices referred to here are all based on repeat-sales indexes from CoreLogic.
2Monmouth County Summer Coastal Population Study, November 2008
|Edison-New Brunswick Metro Division: selected characteristics|
|Population in 2010||% of 2010 Population that is1|
|Total Population1||% Change from 20001||per Sq. Mile2||Black||Hispanic||Asian|
|Edison-NB Metro Division||2,340,249||7.7||1359||7.4||12.8||11.1|
|Edison-New Brunswick Metro Division: selected characteristics|
|Median||% of Homes||% of Adults with5|
|Household Income3||Home Value4||Owner Occupied4||College Degrees||HS Degrees|
|Edison-NB Metro Division||$73,492||$366,900||75.0||36.3||89.5|