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Incomes in New Jersey Average 5% Lower Than Before Great Recession

New U.S. Census Bureau figures show that post-recession pain continues as incomes lag and more people live below federal poverty level

Most New Jerseyans' income last year still had not recovered from the recent recession when adjusted for inflation, new data show.

According to the 2015 American Community Survey released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, the inflation-adjusted median household income in the state was $72,093, about $3,700 less, or nearly 5 percent lower, than its equivalent in the 2010 survey. (These estimates are averaged over a five-year period to provide the greatest level of accuracy, so the latest income estimate is for the period from 2011 through 2015, and compares with an average of $75,793 for 2006 through 2010.)

Although the Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, New Jersey's recovery has lagged, which may skew the five-year averaged figure and the difference between the two. However, single year estimates released earlier this year also show the state's income not having yet caught up to pre-recession levels. In 2015, the census put the median household income in the state at $72,222, almost 2 percent less than 2010's $73,406 median, adjusted to 2014 dollars.

Local estimates also released today show that income rose in fewer than 10 percent of New Jersey municipalities for which census officials calculated inflation-adjusted changes.

The bureau released five-year averaged median income estimates for all communities in the state except for two — Pine Valley and Tavistock, both in Camden County — where the populations are too small to provide accurate calculations. The median ranged from a high of more than $200,000 in North Caldwell in Essex County to a low of $16,667 in Walpack in Sussex County. Camden and Atlantic City had the second and third lowest median incomes, respectively, both below $26,000.

Follow this link for a searchable database of income and poverty data from the 2015 census.

Census officials also put out inflation-adjusted income estimates for 190 municipalities. The differences between the 2015 five-year averages and the 2010 averages were considered statistically significant in 45 communities and of those, only three saw their median incomes rise. Of the three, Fair Haven had the highest income increase — almost 29 percent. Inflation-adjusted median income rose about 20 percent in Leonia and 11 percent in Morristown. The largest drops in income were estimated to be in Roselle, 31 percent less in 2011-2015 than in 2006-2010, and in Lindenwold, almost 25 percent lower.

The newly released data includes some other income-related statistics that demonstrate New Jerseyans' continuing post-recession pain:

  • 5.5 percent of households had less than $10,000 in income in 2011-2015, compared with 4.8 percent in 2006-2010, a difference considered statistically significant. That means almost 176,000 households had very little income, according to last year's estimates.

  • The proportion of people living below the federal poverty level increased from 9.1 percent in the 2010 estimates to 10.8 percent in 2015. They included 15.5 percent of all children and 8 percent of senior citizens.

  • More than 3 in 10 residents in 11 municipalities, most of them in South Jersey, were poor according to federal standards, the 2015 estimates show. The poverty rates in both Camden and Salem city were near 40 percent.

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