Poverty in NJ at 52 Year High

7th Annual Poverty Benchmarks Report Released

Poverty in NJ at 52 Year HighAccording to the Poverty Benchmarks 2013, poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011.

The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels.

“This is not just a one-year or five-year or 10-year variation,” said Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of LSNJ, which gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases. “This is the worst that it’s been since the 1960 Census.”

And it may get worse: The report warned Census figures for 2012 to be released this month may be higher. Those numbers are expected to show some of the impact from Hurricane Sandy, which took a bite out of the state’s economy and destroyed a large amount of affordable housing.

“The Great Recession was the worst major economic event since the early ’30s,” Miller said. “It’s taken longer for the U.S. to come out of it.”

The report found:

  • A record high of more than 630,000 children — 31.2 percent — lived in a household defined as poor.
  • The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds living in poverty rose from 26.9 in 2007 to 32.8 in 2011.
  • Of families headed by single mothers, 22 percent were poor compared to 3.6 percent of families headed by a married couple.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics had poverty rates at least three times higher than whites.
  • Boosted by the consistency of Social Security payments, the percentage of elderly who were poor dropped from 26.7 in 2007 to 26.2 in 2011.
  • Six counties — Passaic, Cumberland, Hudson, Essex, Atlantic and Salem — had more than 30 percent of their population living in poverty in 2011.
  • Among cities, nearly 65 percent of Camden residents lived in poverty, and 79 percent of children lived in poor households. Poverty topped 50 percent in Passaic, Lakewood, Paterson, Trenton and Newark.

This is one of several videos from this year’s report.

Click here to view more videos.

Click here to read the full report.