A new report by the Economic Policy Institute finds to be in the top 1 percent of wage earners in New Jersey, you have to earn $539,000 a year – that’s the third-highest total in the nation behind Connecticut and Washington D.C.

(hynci, ThinkStock)

Many shoppers in Mercer County seemed shocked to hear the news.

“It’s seems like a lot, yeah,” said John from Ewing. “I was going to says $80,000 or $100,000, but wow, I guess its doctors or lawyers."

Another shopper stopped dead in her tracks with her mouth wide open.

“Really, what, what is this, amazing!” she said. “What the heck! That’s crazy, just bizarre, crazy!”

One man standing nearby shook his head in amazement.

“Pretty ridiculous, I think that’s just unattainable,” he said. “That kind of salary range is just insane.”

Harry, a Trenton resident was also quite surprised.

"Oh my, money is not what it used to be, the value of money is depreciated,” he said.

Susan from Hamilton figured the number was around a $500,000 annually, but she still said “it is mind boggling, it is astronomical, how many industries do we have that could that much in salary? Not very many, I can’t think of any here in the state.”

“Unless you’re born with it, you know you come from money, you’re not going to earn that much, very, very few will, so it’s mind boggling to me," she said.

The report finds the top 1 percent of wage earners in Connecticut have to make $677,000 annually, while workers in Washington D.C. in that elite group, earn $555,000.

Hawaii has the lowest 1 percent wage earner total - $278,000 a year.

Census data from 2010 shows Hunterdon County has the highest median family income in New Jersey, with $121,166. Somerset County is second, with a median family income of $115,214 and Morris County is ranked third, with a median family income of $114,694.

The New Jersey county with the lowest median family income is Cumberland, at $60,642 The second lowest County is Atlantic, with a median family income of $66,920. Passaic County has the third lowest, with $67,208.

The data shows the five richest towns in the Garden State include:

  • Mantoloking, in Ocean County, per capita income of $114,017;
  • Saddle River in Bergen County, per capita income of $85, 934;
  • Far Hills in Somerset County, a per capita income of $81,535;
  • Essex Fells in Essex County, a per capita income of $77, 434; and
  • Alpine in Bergen County, a per capita income of $76, 995.

Sign up for the WPG Talk Radio 104.1 Newsletter

Get South Jersey news and information e-mailed to you every week.