Gov. Murphy signs order to establish jobs council in New Jersey

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Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order setting up a council focused on growing the state's economy.

The governor signed the executive order Tuesday in Dayton at an operating engineers' union facility.

Murphy says the Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council will analyze state and national trends, focusing on expanding and attracting jobs to New Jersey.

“Every step forward is a positive. Every new job shows strength,” Murphy said.

The council will consist of members of the governor’s Cabinet, including Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver as well as the treasurer and commissioners of labor, education and banking and insurance.

Murphy cast the order as part of his campaign promise to build a "stronger and fairer" economy.

The governor also said that one way to get the state’s economy back on track would be to secure federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel Project. But Murphy says that he is not very optimistic about the future of that project after his trip to Washington Monday.

State leaders say that the project would need billions of dollars approved by the Trump administration in order to get underway.

“I’m in there fighting for the Gateway Project in particular, to finally get a tunnel built under the Hudson River. We need the federal government to play a muscular role,” Murphy said. “That’s something that we are not yet in the same place on, and we are struggling.”

International Union of Operating Engineers business manager Greg Lalevee says that constructing the tunnel would lead to thousands of jobs from construction, to materials, to trucking.

New Jersey's unemployment rate is down from highs near 10 percent during the recession to 5 percent. But it's lower than the national rate of 4.1 percent.

This was the governor’s 12th executive order since taking office last month.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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