New Jersey could be the poster-child state of income inequality, since it has the second-highest average income in the country but 25 percent of its residents live at only 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s how New Jersey Policy Perspective defines the “true poverty” level in a high-cost state like New Jersey. The federal poverty level is about $24,000 a year for a family of four.
NJPP estimates that at least 30 percent of residents in five counties — Atlantic, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, and Passaic — can be considered to be living in “true” poverty. Only Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset had less than 15 percent of their residents are living at only 200 percent of the federal poverty level.