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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 4


Additional  Economic Vitality Indicators

1 - Income

2 - Unemployment

3 - Productivity

5 - Gross State Product (GSP) increasing

6 - Energy efficiency increasing

Poverty

Percent of New Jerseyans who fall below the official poverty level: Cyclical

  Things to think about

During most years, the percentage of blacks and Latinos living in poverty is at least double the percentage of other New Jerseyans living in poverty.

Many of us are among the "working poor" who are employed but living below the poverty threshold. The percent of working poor in New Jersey was 3.7 in 1997-1998.

An increase in the number of part-time and low-skill service industry jobs that do not provide a "living wage" is one reason why some working people are unable to make ends meet.

Importance

New Jersey has the second-highest per capita income in the nation. The amount of money earned by the average New Jerseyan has risen impressively for many years, even at a time when people in many other places struggle to get by. However, our rise in per capita income has not eliminated all of our economic problems. The gap between the richest and poorest of us remains significant in New Jersey, as it does nationally.

Economic

High poverty rates impose costs on the state welfare system and can slow economic growth, particularly in impoverished communities. Poverty is correlated with poor health, reduced training of workers, decreased opportunity, higher crime rates, and other factors that inhibit economic growth.

Environmental

Understandably, concern for the natural environment is often secondary to basic survival needs for those of us who live below the poverty threshold. Poverty hinders us from participating in conservation efforts, even though our future depends on healthy surroundings.

Social

Poverty can be very destructive to our social fabric. Inequities between races and social classes deepen social divisions and create tensions that undermine a healthy society. The success of our state depends on our ability to move forward and react to problems as a unified society. Poverty works against our ability to do that.

Knowledge Gaps

The poverty rate is considered by many to be based on antiquated calculations of the cost of living. Many people who are above the formal poverty line are struggling economically.

Note: Each year’s data point is a two year rolling average value.

Data Source: US Bureau of the Census, And National Center for Children In Poverty

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 25, 2007

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