Despite being the second-wealthiest state in the nation, New Jersey has a higher real poverty rate than 35 other states, with about 1.35 million — or one in seven — residents living in poverty, according to the recent Supplemental Poverty Measure released by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s 44 percent more than the 930,000 that are living under the official federal poverty level.
The number of additional families falling into poverty using the more accurate measure is frightening: While the official poverty rate for poverty in New Jersey averaged 10.7 percent between 2010 and 2012, the supplemental rate was 15.5 percent. This is the second-largest difference of any of the 50 states (after California); nationally the difference was just one percentage point.
The main reason for the high level of real poverty is New Jersey’s high cost of living, particularly for housing. The new census findings confirm other research from our colleagues at Legal Services of New Jersey and the United Way of Northwest New Jersey, which has consistently shown that real poverty in New Jersey is much higher than what is reported in the official poverty statistics.