Poverty has risen in New Jersey to its highest level since the 1950s, according to a new report by the Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute. The report indicates that even though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, poverty continues to rise in New Jersey and in 2011 was 10.4 percent statewide.
The counties with the highest poverty rates are Essex, Passaic, Hudson, and Cumberland, with rates ranging from 17.6 percent (Essex) to 16.1 percent (Cumberland.) Hunterdon has the lowest poverty rate at 4 percent, but it jumped from 3.8 percent. Somerset and Morris counties also have rates below 5 percent.
The high rate of poverty is particularly troubling, according to the report, since the federal poverty line does not take into account the high cost of living in New Jersey. A better indication of poverty, the LSNJ argues, is living below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Sadly, that is nearly 25 percent of New Jerseyans.