Economic Conditions

Economic Conditions are the cost and spending circumstances that individuals and households face This section covers issues related to the cost of living, income sources, poverty and inequality.

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

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Economic Conditions data within New Jersey and its impact on the State’s economy.


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

2nd Slowest Job Growth

August 22, 2014.  New Jersey gained just 13,600 jobs between July 2013 and July 2014, for a growth rate of just .3% for the year.  This trails only Alaska over the same period (but ties with Nebraska and New Mexico).  Over the same period nearby states of New York and Pennsylvania grew at rates of 1.3% and .9%, respectively. 

• 12th in Income Inequality

February 20, 2014.  According the US Census' American Community Survey for 2012, New Jersey had the 12th highest value among all states for the Gini Index, a common measure of income inequality.

16th Best Place to Live (Parsippany-Tory, NJ)

September 14, 2014. New Jersey has 3 cities ranked in Money's 2014 ranking of America's Best 50 place to live: Parsippany-Troy (No.16), Franklin (No.26), and Piscataway (No.17). 

36th in Economic Growth

June 11, 2014. The real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of New Jersey improved 1.1 percent to $509 billion in 2013 from $503 billion in 2012 (2009 constant dollars) according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Wholesale trade was the largest contributor to the real GDP growth in New Jersey. Overall, U.S. real GDP grew 2.5 percent in 2012 after a 1.6 percent increase in 2011.

• 9th Worst State for Retirement

October 29, 2013. Based on economic factors, crime, climate and life expectancy, New Jersey was ranked the 9th worst state for retirement in 2013 according to Idaho was ranked best and Louisiana was ranked worst among 50 states. This ranking is two spots worse than in 2012.

5th Most Expensive States to Live

July 9, 2013. With the average house price $557,145, half gallon of milk $3.79 and pound of ground beef $3.43 etc., CNBC ranked New Jersey at the 5th most expensive state to live in the U.S. in 2013. 

11th in Income Inequality

November 15, 2012. Using a slightly different measure of inequality, another source gave very similar results.  New Jersey has the 11th highest ratio of average household income for the richest 20 percent of households to the poorest 20 percent of households from 2008-2010 with 8.3 according to 2012 report, Pulling Apart, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. New Mexico was the most unequal with a ratio of 9.9.

 16th in Economic Well-being for Children

July, 2014. New Jersey ranked 18th in economic well-being in the national Kids Count Data Book, the 2013 annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The ranking is comprised of the rates for children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high housing cost burden, and teens not in school and not working. This is an improvement of one spot for New Jersey since the 2014 report.

• 6th Worst State to Make a Living

June 9, 2014. According to, New Jersey was the 9th worst state to make a living in 2014. The ranking considers average wage, unemployment rate, cost of living, and state taxes. New Jersey was ranked 6th worst in 2013.

• 8th in GDP per Capita

June, 2014.  The Gross Domestic Product per capita in New Jersey is $57,203, the 8th largest in the United States in 2013 according to U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Conneticut had the highest with $65,070 and Mississippi had the lowest with $32,421. 

• 3rd Highest Disposable Income

September 30, 2014. New Jersey ranked third highest among the states in 2013, with per capita disposable personal income of $46,778, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Connecticut was first, with per capita disposable personal income of 48,947; and Massachusetts was second at $46,820. Mississippi ranked last with $29,811.

• 7th in Per Capita Dividends, Interest, and Rent

October 3, 2014. With per capita dividends, interest, and rent income of $9,317 in 2013, New Jersey had the 7th highest according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Wyoming ranked first with $12,755, and West Virginia ranked last with $4,677. The national average was $7,686.

• 5th Lowest Poverty Rate

September, 2013. With a poverty rate of 10.8 percent in 2012, New Jersey had the 5th smallest percent of population below the poverty level according to the U.S. Census. Mississippi had the largest with 24.2 and New Hampshire had the smallest with 10.0 percent.


State and Local Reports


ALICE - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed: Study of Financial Hardship in New Jersey

This new 2014 United Way ALICE Report for New Jersey is far more than a report about poverty; it reveals profound changes in the structure of New Jersey’s communities and jobs. It documents the increase in the basic cost of living, the decrease in the availability of jobs that can support household necessities, and the shortage of housing that the majority of the state’s jobs can afford. As such, despite New Jersey’s reputation as a wealthy state, the number of households that cannot afford basic household necessities of housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation increased from 32 percent in 2007 to 38 percent in 2012.

The Household Survival Budget and the Household Stability Budget are available for each county in New Jersey. Go to United Way ALICE – New Jersey
For information on other states and press coverage, to to United Way ALICE

Additional Reports

Advocates for Children of New Jersey, 2014 New Jersey Kids Count: The State of Our Children, 2014.

Department of the Treasury, State of New Jersey, Bimonthly NJ Economic Insights, 2014

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