New Jersey is Richest State


Aug 29, 2006
New Jersey is richest state, but has some of the poorest cities
By: GEOFF MULVIHILL (Tue, Aug/29/2006)

New Jersey again has the highest household income of any state and one of the lowest poverty rates, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, but two of its biggest cities are among the poorest in the nation.

Camden ranks as the poorest place in the country with a population over 65,000 and Newark is among the poorest cities with more than 250,000 people, according to the figures released Tuesday based on data for 2005.

The numbers illustrate that New Jersey, with its middle-class and wealthy suburbs nestled up against struggling, old industrial cities, continues to be a place of stark economic contrasts.

On the whole, the state has high incomes, along with a high cost of living. Half the households make more than $61,672 per year - putting the Garden State just ahead of Connecticut as the nation's richest. And the poverty rate of 8.7 percent is lower than every state except for New Hampshire, Maryland and Connecticut.

The census income report a year ago found New Jersey's poverty rate slightly lower - 8.5 percent. But Legal Services of New Jersey Poverty Research Institute on Tuesday said its own analysis, which took into account the high cost of living, shows that more than one in five state residents are impoverished.

Despite that, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset and Burlington counties are all among those with the lowest poverty rates in the country and Hunterdon, Somerset, and Morris all rank among the highest-income places in the nation. Among all the counties across the country with populations over 65,000, only two - Loudon, Va., and Fairfax, Va. - have median household incomes higher than those in Hunterdon.

A seat of the pharmaceutical industry with many residents who commute to New York, the county north of Trenton sees half its households bring in more than $93,342 per year.

Yet, among large cities nationally, only six have lower incomes than Newark, where the median household income was $30,665.

In Camden, 44 percent of the roughly 80,000 residents live in poverty - the highest such rate in the nation, according to the study. The median household income in the city is $18,007, which is the nation's lowest.

The gritty city near Philadelphia, where the state has been trying to jump-start redevelopment efforts, is no stranger to studies that portray life there as harsher than in other cities with tough reputations.

One research firm found in 2004 and 2005 that the city was the nation's most dangerous.

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