Report: Income Gap Widening in NJ
A new report confirms what many have suspected for a long time - the rich keep getting richer in New Jersey while everybody else keeps falling behind.
The report, "Income Inequality in New Jersey: The Growing Divide and It's Consequences," finds since the year 2000, but more notably since the end of the Great Recession, the incomes of the highest fifth percent of the population have gotten steadily larger. In addition, the reports shows the incomes of the lowest fifth percent have gone in the other direction, according to Melville Miller, the president of Legal Services of New Jersey, an organization that provides legal help to low-income residents who are facing civil cases and need assistance.
He said it's disturbing that there's been a very high concentration "of income increase at the very top of the income spectrum, and all of the other groups have either remained stagnant or gone in the other direction."
"Middle income people, certainly low income people in New Jersey have increasing difficulty meeting the costs of living in this state," Miller said.
According to Miller, in New Jersey everything is expensive but housing costs in particular threaten the stability of families struggling to make ends meet.
He also said his organization has found that 30 percent of the population in Jersey is living "with at least one significant form of deprivation in areas necessary for daily life: housing, food, healthcare."
"It's a problem that continues to get worse," Miller said.
The report finds in 2009, the average New Jersey family income was $99,600, but last year it fell to $96,700.
It also shows the average household income among the state's poorest families - the bottom 20 percent - was $16,196 five years ago, but it fell to $14,607 last year. Meanwhile the family income of the top 20 percent of families held almost steady during that same time span - $248,112 in 2009, and $244,575 last year.