This is a question that many of us ask on a regular basis. This week a study by the Working Poor Families Project, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers published “CLIMBING THE LADDER: How to Invest in New Jersey’s Working Families.” This report is a shocking reminder of how New Jersey is really two states – one rich and one poor. This is a must read report. To read the full report click here.
According to the report “a two-parent, two-child family in New Jersey requires a yearly income of between $49,572 and $57,144 just to make ends meet, depending on where in the state it lives. That is more than double the national poverty threshold. The discrepancy is attributable to the fact that the poverty threshold was created in the 1960s and while it is updated to keep pace with inflation, fails to take into account the fact that such costs as housing and health care are larger shares of a family budget than they used to be. This measure of economic well being needs to be revised to more accurately define
the problem.” To view county by county numbers see page 10 of the report.
The following is a brief summary from the report.
From a distance, New Jersey appears to be an economic powerhouse. On such indicators as median household income and educational attainment the state is a national leader. But upon closer examination, New Jersey turns out to be, in essence, two states. In one, people are well educated, highly skilled and prosperous. In the other New Jersey, people work hard but find themselves under equipped in terms of education, training and support in the struggle to make it in a state that has a cost of living a third above the national average.
For New Jersey to reach its full potential, prosperity must be widely shared.And for prosperity to be widely shared more must be done to help low- income working men and women and their families – help themselves move up the economic and educational ladder.
For that to happen, state leaders need to address a number of policy – blind spots – in order to provide greater opportunity. Too often, New Jersey pulls the rug out from under low-income working people and their families before they can advance far enough to
make it on their own.
To read the full report click here.