NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy came to the Hub City on Thursday to trumpet the good news about New Jersey’s economy.

Numbers released Thursday showed the state’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.5% - the lowest rate in history.

Prime examples of how to sustain that economic growth, however, could be found right here in New Brunswick, Murphy said.

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Speaking at the Children’s Specialized Hospital on Somerset Street, he said that apprenticeships such as the ones employed at the hospital will be crucial to keeping the economy on the uptick.

“The biggest need of business of any size or any type is talent and in a tightening labor market, we are doing all we can to develop both talent pipelines for employers and at the same time career pathways for employees,” Murphy said. “This is the reason we are here at Children’s Specialized Hospital because of the growing partnership between RWJ Barnabas Health on one hand and the Department of Labor on the other hand.”

In this hospital, Murphy said there are 80 apprenticeships in various healthcare specialties including lab technologists, paramedics, and patient care physicians. He said those apprenticeships will be earning a minimum wage of $15 an hour and college credits toward an associates or bachelors of science degree.

The reference to the $15 minimum wage comes two weeks after he signed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, with an eye on upping it to $15 in five years.

Overall, nearly 4.3 million New Jerseyans are working, a gain of more than 10,000 from May to June and a gain of more than 45,000 over the past year.

Since taking office 18 months ago, private-sector employment has grown by more than 61,00 jobs, Murphy said.

The Garden State’s 3.5% unemployment rate is the lowest seasonally adjusted rate since the state started its current record keeping in 1976.

“That’s lower than when the economy was roaring in the 1980s,” Murphy said. “It’s lower than when we were riding high on the dot com wave of the 1990s.

The key to continued growth, Murphy said, might just be apprenticeship programs that he called pipelines to good jobs.

Warren Moore, the president and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital, commended Murphy and his administration for its commitment and “renewed” focus on workforce development and apprenticeship programs.

“As we know firsthand, workforce development initiatives including apprenticeships have paved the career pathway for many of employees here at Children’s Specialized Hospital,” Moore said.

Since February 2010 (the low point of the last recession), New Jersey’s private sector employers have added 410,900 jobs.