FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 3, 2011
whiten (at) njpp.org
609-393-1145 ext. 15
New Jersey’s working families are worse off economically today than they were at the turn of the century, according to a report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). The report, The State of Working New Jersey 2011: The Lost Decade, offers data on the state’s economy, including employment, wages, pay gaps relating to gender and race, and poverty. It also puts New Jersey’s economy during the first 11 years of the 21st century in a national context, showing how the state has fared compared to other states around the country.
Despite income growth during the early 2000s, New Jersey was not adding many new jobs, report author Helene Jorgensen notes. This was due to the dual speculative bubbles of the housing market and stock market; when both bubbles ultimately burst, the ripple effects spread far across New Jersey’s economy and wiped out any job gains the state had experienced in the first part of the decade.
“Working people in New Jersey already know how bad the economy is for their families. They experience it looking for jobs that no longer exist. They feel it in their gut when they scrape together a mortgage payment,” NJPP president Deborah Howlett says. “This report uses important data to explain just how deep the mark is that has been left on New Jersey by the lack of jobs and the stagnant economy.”
Among the key findings of the report:
- There were fewer jobs in 2010 than in 2000.
- There were 2.7 times as many people unemployed in 2010 than in 2000.
- Nearly a quarter million more New Jerseyans lived in poverty in 2010 than in 2000.
- The number of children living in poverty increased by 16 percent in just two years.
- Real wages were lower for the bottom 30 percent of wage earners in 2010 than in 2000.
- Real median household income from the typical household was lower in 2010 than in 2000.
The lack of job opportunities and declining earnings detailed in NJPP’s report, on top of New Jersey’s high cost of living, have made it harder for families to make ends meet. The findings show it is critical for the state to maintain and expand its minimum wage, earned income tax credit, unemployment insurance system, public health insurance programs, child care assistance and paid family leave. Without these critical supports, poverty will likely continue to increase.
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