Video: Ex-Governor, Senator Discuss Worsening Plight of New Jersey’s ‘Working Poor’

John Mooney | November 24, 2015 | More Issues
United Way leads forum, seeks to help those who just don’t earn enough to support themselves in increasingly expensive state

Video: Michael Cummings, United Way of Northern New Jersey

The topics ranged from property taxes to the minimum wage to New Jersey’s pension crisis – and the plight of New Jersey’s “working poor.”

Tackling those issues were two of New Jersey’s most prominent political voices, former Gov. Thomas Kean and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

The setting was the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown in a forum organized by the United Way of Northern New Jersey.

The subject at hand was the state’s working poor and what can be done to help them. The United Way has launched a campaign to bring attention to the plight of New Jersey residents who are barely making ends meet in the state, one it has labeled with the acronym ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

United Way estimates 890,000 people fit the ALICE profile in New Jersey – they’re income is above the poverty line but below what’s needed for basic self-sufficiency.

They are healthcare aides, waiters and waitresses, service workers, and laborers. Typically they make less than $20 per hour. The campaign is focusing on three key areas for helping them: education, income and health.

“What frustrates me is … when you see how fragile a family is when they’re doing everything right and they’re barely making it,” Booker said.

Kean and Booker spoke for nearly an hour before Friday night’s audience, with NJ Monthly publisher Kate Tomlinson as moderator.

Following is a video excerpt of their discussion, as talked about how the state’s high cost of living, in part driven by rising property taxes, is placing a greater squeeze on those who can least afford it.

Click here for more information on the United Way’s ALICE campaign.