BY GIANNA MERCADANTE
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.35 million New Jersey residents are living in poverty, compared to 900,000 that were previously reported.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report showing the poverty rates have increased in 13 states and Washington D.C. According to The Washington Post, New Jersey suffered the second greatest increase in state poverty, only behind California.
Ray Castro of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a non-profit organization that conducts research on public policy issues in New Jersey, blames the high poverty rates in New Jersey on the state’s high cost of living, reports newsworks.org.
"It's mainly housing ... in New Jersey, for example, 25 percent of all renters pay more than half of their income on rent. So that a huge factor," he said. "We're second highest in the foreclosure rate in the country. Child-care costs are also very high in our state."
The Census redefined a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) two years ago in order to account for all costs and income of the poor that the Official Poverty Rate ignores. The previous measure overlooked the costs of taxes, child-care, work expenses, and medical bills, as well as the benefits of food stamps, subsidized housing, and home energy assistance.
In September, nj.com reported that poverty in New Jersey in 2011 was the highest it had been in 52 years. This measure was based on a survey conducted by Legal Services of New Jersey, which also correctly predicted the 2012 Census to show an even worse rate.
The current SPM shows that poverty rates are lower in 28 states and Castro believes that New Jersey could be headed in this direction. Castro claimed that the federal Affordable Care Act and the recent approval of a minimum wage increase will help reduce the costs of the poor and can likewise help to lower the poverty rate.