Want to Succeed Financially? NJ’s Not a Great Place to Try
Prosperity — many New Jerseyans are from it.
And a new analysis paints a clearer picture of the everyday struggles experienced by countless Garden State residents.
The Prosperity Now Scorecard looked at 62 measures related to the financial well-being and economic opportunity of residents in each state and the District of Columbia.
Compared to the national average, New Jersey lags behind on several key indicators.
The state ranks 38th in the nation, for example, for the percentage of residents with emergency savings (53.2). At $19,569, New Jersey's median student loan debt is the country's sixth highest.
About 13 percent of residents are forgoing doctor visits due to cost, Prosperity Now finds. Around the same percentage of New Jersey consumers with debt, according to the nonprofit, are 90 or more days behind on payments.
Hampered by the worst foreclosure rate in the country (4.35 percent), and the third-highest rate of cost-burdened homeowners (36.5 percent spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs), New Jersey received an "F" grade in the category of homeownership & housing.
"More than half of New Jersey's renters are also cost burdened," said Lebaron Sims, senior research manager with Prosperity Now.
New Jersey ranked among the bottom half of states on all 10 indicators in the housing category. The state features the third-worst rate of delinquent mortgage loans (2.08 percent).
“The lack of homes people can afford in communities around our state is holding back New Jersey’s economy," said Nina Rainiero with the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "If people can’t afford to live here, we will never get our economy back on track. Governor Murphy and legislative leaders should invest in proven program that create affordable home opportunities in order to make New Jersey a place we can all afford to call home.”
New Jersey gave the best performance in the education category, coming in with the second-best rate of high school graduation (90.1 percent) and the third-best rate of early childhood education enrollment (63.1 percent).
Overall, New Jersey ranked 25th among the states for the prosperity of its residents.
"With that said, New Jersey has taken a fair amount of action. relative to some of the other states, in terms of adopting policies that help to open up the pathways of prosperity for its residents," Sims said.
Of the 53 policies examined by the Scorecard, New Jersey has adopted 30, including its own Earned Income Tax Credit and a minimum wage of at least $15 by the year 2023.