The latest report of poverty rates in New Jersey is, by itself, alarming. Coupled with the concept that we are in the midst of a “Jersey Comeback,” the report still strikes a negative chord around the state.
The U.S Census Bureau suggests that New Jersey has reached the highest level of poverty in five years. Real income is shrinking each year as the cost of living rises. It is all but assured that each fiscal year will present a more difficult struggle for survival in our State. Median income for the average household drops each year, and the spending power of each family decreases as well. All indications are that New Jersey is fairing worse than the rest of the country. On the national level, the poverty rate decreased slightly, but the poverty rate continued to grow in New Jersey.
Yet, our Governor contends that we are in the midst of a “comeback.” New Jerseyans hear this as it becomes more difficult to find a job. As purchasing power decreases, property taxes increase. It has never been more difficult to financially maintain a home in New Jersey. College tuition costs are skyrocketing. Even if students are fortunate enough to acquire student loans, they are condemned to a lifetime of poverty trying to pay the loans back. One scenario that has been suggested by experts is that the current college generation will have the lowest level of home ownership in history, as exorbitant student loans will make the American Dream impossible. At what point have college students been told that they will receive an education at the expense of owning a home?
The old concept that hard work, dedication and sacrifice will enable one to achieve the American Dream has become a myth. Never has a younger generation faced such an uncertain future. Governor Christie’s self-proclaimed “comeback” is wishful thinking. In fact, the working class appeared to be hit the hardest, with no rescue in sight.
Poverty rates and the “New Jersey Comeback” may face a tough time co-existing in New Jersey!
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a disability policy specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law.