Interactive Map: Many Still Live in Poverty Despite Garden State’s Wealth

Lee Keough | January 10, 2014 | Map of the Week, Maps
Rates are highest in cities, among Hispanic residents and for families with five or more children

New Jersey may be the second-richest state in the nation but it still has large pockets of poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

The most recent ACS looks at data over a five-year time frame and pegs the number of families living below the poverty line at 7.4 percent. That rate is higher for families with children under 18 years of age, with 11.4 percent living below the poverty line.

As has been the case in the past, the largest number of people living at or under the poverty line tends to be crowded into cities like Newark and its environs or in South Jersey.

Camden continues to be the poorest city in the state, with a poverty rate of 38.6 percent. Newark fares better, although it has a 28 percent poverty rate. Passaic, (29.7 percent) is actually second to Camden in terms of poverty, with Paterson (27.6 percent) and Trenton (26.6 percent) following closely behind.

Nevertheless, if you look at the map, which has high poverty rates represented by darker blues, South Jersey has pockets of wealth, while North Jersey and Central Jersey have pockets of poverty.

Latinos make up the largest number of families living in poverty, as 17.1 percent of Hispanic families are considered poor. About 16.3 percent of African-American families are at the poverty level or below, while only 5.1 percent of whites and 5.3 percent of Asians live in poverty.

Married couples of all races fare better, with only 3.3 percent of those families living in poverty. On the other hand, single-parent families with a female head of household fare much worse, with 22.4 percent of all these families considered poor.

It may be obvious but the statistics bear out that the more education someone has and the fewer children a family includes, the less likely they will be to live in poverty. Families with five or more children have a 39.8 percent poverty rate in the Garden State, and those headed by high school dropouts have a poverty rate of 21.3 percent.

Many poor families have someone who works, at least part-time. There is a poverty rate of 4.8 percent for homes where a householder works. Even among year-round, full-time workers, 2.1 percent live below the poverty line.