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December 9, 2010

New Jersey may be one of the wealthiest states in the nation, but 9.4 percent of the state’s residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates. That works out to 798,258 people. Despite this, New Jersey had the second-highest median income in the country at $68,444.

The situation is worse for children in the Garden State: 13.3 percent under the age of 18 were living in poverty, and 15.7 under the age of four met that criteria. Still, those figures compare favorably with the nation as a whole: 14.3 percent of kids in the U.S. live in poverty, 20 percent under the age of 18 met that criteria, and a whopping 23.2 percent under the age of four met poverty guidelines.

The Bureau also broke down its findings by county. The highest rate of poverty was in Passaic County, at 16.5 percent, followed by Cumberland County (16.4 percent) and Hudson County (14.6 percent). The counties with the fewest people living in poverty were Morris (3.8 percent), Hunterdon (4.3 percent) and Somerset (4.4 percent).

Those numbers are in line with the median income level in each county: The highest was Hunterdon, at $100,845, Morris ($96,300) and Somerset ($90,125).

New Jersey’s median income was second only to that of Maryland, with a median income of $69,193 and a total poverty rate of 9.2 percent. Other high-income, relatively low poverty-rate states include Connecticut (median income, $66,906; poverty rate, 9.3 percent) and Alaska (median income, $66,712; poverty rate, 9.1 percent). The lowest poverty rate in the country was in New Hampshire, at 8.2 percent, with a median income of $60,734.

The Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates are used for federal funding guidelines, among other things.

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