Government is the system of rule in a geographic area. This section focuses on public administration, public finance, regulation, taxation and size of the public sector in New Jersey

National Rankings provide data on how New Jersey compares to other states on measures of Government.

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Government data within New Jersey and its impact on life in the State as well as the economy.


National Rankings compared to other states, New Jersey ranks...

• 21st in Frequency of Public Employee Convictions 

June 18, 2014. Between 1976 and 2008, New Jersey averaged 5.2 convictions of public officials annually per 100,000 public employees.  This ranked 21st highest among the states.  The state with the highest rate of public officials convicted was Mississippi, with 8.6 convictions per 100,000 employees.  Oregon was the best, with just 1.2 convictions per 100,000 public employees.  These results were reprinted in the Washington Post and based on research published by Cheol Liu and John L. Mikesell in the May/June 2014 issue of Public Administration Review. 

• 26th in Transparency of Economic Development Programs

January 29, 2014. In its report: Show Us the Subsidized Jobs, the Washington DC-based non-profit Good Jobs First examines the on-line information that states make available regarding the costs and benefits of incentives they give to private companies for building or expanding in their state.  The report considers such things as whether the states disclose company-specific levels of job creation, wages paid, and the ease of finding on-line data. New Jersey tied for 26th with Alaska and the District of Columbia.  More than three-quarters of states fail to describe actual jobs created or the number of workers trained by subsidized firms.  

 Tied for 11th in Open Data Policies and Portals

August 18, 2014.  New Jersey earned 4 out 8 points for the quality and comprehensiveness of its open data polices and portal, ranking even with Oregon, Vermont, California, Michigan, and Missouri.  Open data refers to the policy and practice of making government data available on the internet in machine-readible form for use by the public.  New Jersey has an open data portal, but it's policies are not yet codified, and the quality of its portal did not earn top credit.  States earning perfect scores included: Utah, Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma, and New York. The rankings are compiled by the Center for Data Innovation, a data policy think tank located in Washington, DC.

• 8th in Size of its Government Sector

June 11, 2014.  The compensation of employees in federal, state and local government in New Jersey was $51.7 billion in 2012 according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Statistics. This is up from the state's 12th place ranking in 2010.  California had the largest compensation totaling $233 billion and Vermont had the smallest with $3 .6 billion.

Tied for 15th in Personal Income Tax Decline for 2014

June, 2014. New Jersey personal income tax revenues for the first quarter fell by 20.3% between 2013 and 2014, according to the Rockefeller Institute at SUNY-Albany.  Ohio had the largest decline, at 47.7%.  Delaware had the largest increase in personal income tax revenues over the same period, with a gain 11.8% 

• 3rd Worst State Credit Rating 

June 9, 2014.  With a downgrade of its credit rating from AA- to A+ in April, 2014, New Jersey now outranks only California and Illinois. 

• Tied for 29th in Providing On-Line Access to Government Spending Data

April 8, 2014. New Jersey tied with Mississippi in its on-line provision of access to government spending data.  This is down from 22nd 2012.  This research is from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund. The low ranking is due primarily to the state's incomplete availability of on-line information about subsidies provided. Indiana had the top ranking.

• 2nd in Burden of state and Local Taxes per Capita

March 19, 2014. Considering the entire range of state and local taxes, ranked 2nd in tax burden per capita.  According to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey’s per capita tax burden was $6,675 in 2011. Connecticut had highest tax burden with $7,150 while Montana had lowest with $313. These numbers are not adjusted for per capita income levels.

24th in Overall Sales Tax

March 19, 2014. According to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey has an average sales tax rate of 6.97%.  Their analysis looks at both the state sales tax rate and the average sales tax rates of localities to determine an overall rate.  Tennessee had highest overall sales tax rates with 9.45%, while Delaware, Montana, and Oregon had no sales tax.

• 8th Worst Run State

November 21, 2013. New Jersey ranked 8th worst among the state's in 2013, an improvement of 4 spots from 2012, according to the annual the 24/7 Wall Street survey of the best and worst run states in America. The rankings are based on a review of data on financial health, standard of living and government services by state. Driving the state's poor ranking are the fact that it has the largesest budget among the state in 2012 and the 5th highest debt per capita.  It also had the 4th highest unemployment rate among states in 2012.  California is the worst run for the third year in a row.  North Dakota is the best run state for the second year. 

49th in Reliance on Gas Tax

July 1. 2013.  In 2011, gasoline taxes in New Jersey made up less than 2% of all tax revenue for the state according to the Council of State Governments, Book of the States.  Only Alaska is lower.  Montana relied most on gas taxes, with that source making up over 9$ of total state tax revenue.

• 24th in Unfunded Pension Liabilities 

October 15,2013.  Total assets in New Jersey's pension funds were 67.5% of total obligations in 2012.  This placed the state in the middle among the states, according to Bloomberg News.  Illinois had just 40.4% of its pension liabilities covered, making it the most underfunded of the states.  Wisconsin, on the other hand 99.9% of its liabilities covered.  

• 42nd in Freedom Ranking

April 1, 2013. With a negative score, New Jersey ranked 42nd in the Freedom Ranking of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  This is actually up several spots from 2011. the ranking asseses each state on a wide variety of factors such as fiscal decentralization, debt burden, gun control, malpractice laws, and labor market laws.  Alaska had the top freedom ranking, and Illinois the lowest. 

Tied for 13th in Taxes Paid by Low-income

January 1, 2013. The poorest quintile in New Jersey paid 11.2% of their income in state and local taxes in 2010.  In that year, New Jersey's top 1% paid just 7% of their income to taxes. However, that was a tie for the 4th among the states for highest tax rate on wealthy families.  Data are from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, and based on the share of family income for non-elderly taxpayers paid in state and local taxes.  The highest share of income paid to state and local taxes by lwo income families was in Illinois (13.8%).  In Delaware, the lowest quintile paid just 5.7% of their income to state and local taxes. 

• in Bottom Half for Municipal E-Governance

November 30, 2012.  The websites for New Jersey's two largest cities ranked 54th for Jersey City (out of 100) and 92nd for Newark  according to the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers-Newark's 2012 report: U.S. Municipalities E-Governance Survey, 2010-11: An Assessment and Rankings of Municipal Websites. 

Best for Ethics Laws 

Undated (estimated to be October, 2012 based on Facebook posts). New Jersey ranked highest among the states in the toughness of its ethics laws, according to the State Integrity Investigation of the Center for Public Integrity.  The state got A grades for internal auditing, pension fund management, procurement, lobbying disclosure, ethics enforcement, and redistricting.  However, it only received a C+ for judicial accountability, legislative accountability, and political financing.  Georgia had the worst ranking, but has subsequently passed a series of ethics reforms.

• 7th in State Lottery Revenue

July 20, 2012. New Jersey had the 7th highest state lottery revenue in 2011 according to data compiled by Gambling Compliance. New York led all states with sales of $6.76 billion. The North Dakota Lottery, which was established in 2004, remained at the bottom of the list with $200 million in lottery ticket sales.  In per capita on lottery tickets, New Jersey ranked 5th. Massachusetts residents spent more per capita on lottery tickets than residents of any other state, spending $674.90. North Dakotans spent the least, only $34.20 per capita on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2011.

• 16th in Reduction Local Government Employees

June 1, 2012. The percent change in local government employees per resident was 3.5 percent from December 2008 to December 2011 according to the Pew Center for the States. The national average was 5.6 percent, and Nevada had the largest reduction with 15.4 percent per resident.

• 11th in Transfer Payments

April 26, 2011. New Jersey residents received $7,808 benefits per person in 2010 for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other programs according to USA TODAY.  New York received the highest amount with $9,442 per person, and Utah received the least with $4,731 per person.

• 2nd in Policy Innovation

May 30, 2012. New Jersey had the second highest innovation score for policy adoption from 1912 to 2009 according to a 2012 study by Frederick Boehmke and Paul Skinner. California was the most innovative and Mississippi was the least.

• 8th in Transportation Revenues Collected

New Jersey collected $3.1 billion in transportation revenues in 2008, the 8th highest revenue collecting state in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census. California collected the most with $12.5 billion.

• 32nd in Federal Aid to State and Local Governments per Capita

September 1, 2011. New Jersey receives $1,855 in Federal aid to state and local governments per capita, the 32nd largest amount in 2010 according to the U.S. Census.  Alaska receives the largest amount, $4,682 per capita and virginia receives the lowest amount, $1,330 per capita.

2nd in Reliance on Property Taxes

January 1, 2013. New Jersey receives 36.7 % of its own-source (state and local) revenues from property taxes.  This is second only to New Hampshire, which receives 44.2% of own-source state and local revenue from property taxes.  Alabama has the lowest reliance on property taxes among the states at 10.8%. 

• 24th in the Number of Municipalities

September 26, 2013. New Jersey has 324 municipalities, the 24th highest number of municipalities according the US Census in 2012. Illinois had the most with 1,298 and Hawaii, Rhode Island each had less than 10. 

State and Local Reports

New Jersey Faces Mounting Fiscal Challenges

To understand the threats to fiscal sustainability, the State Budget Crisis Task Force examined six states including New Jersey. The Task Force report on New Jersey by Rutgers professor Richard Keevey noted that New Jersey has struggled to balance its budget for most of the past two decades. Two programs dominate state spending — education and Medicaid. Both have increased significantly and will continue to stress the budget. In addition, since the mid-1990s New Jersey has underfunded its pension systems and has made no provisions for future costs of retiree health benefits. As a result, New Jersey faces difficult choices. Read more in the full report.


Additional Reports

Jon Whiten, New Jersey’s Subsidy Surge Has Not Subsided, New Jersey Policy Perspective, 2013.

Facing Our Future: Updated Report with Options Analysis, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, February 2012.

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan, 2010.

Marc Holzer and John Fry, Shared Services and Municipal Consolidation: Pursuing Careful Assumptions and Grounded Studies, The New Jersey Municipalities, June 2010.

Naomi Mueller Bressler and Carolyn Topp, All That Glitters Isn’t Gold: Property Tax Abatements in Jersey City, New Jersey Policy Perspective, July 2009.



Data from the NJ DataBank may be used with the following acknowledgement:

Source: NJ DataBank (, a project of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Campus at Newark