New Jerseyans are carrying a lot of heavy mortgage debt. But they seem to be coping with most of that burden.

Average mortgage debt in New Jersey right now is 236-thousand, fourth highest in the Nation. But Jersey was one of a handful of states with relatively low foreclosure rates and home values that did not plummet during the big downturn. According to the news cable channel MSNBC, even in states like New Jersey and Maryland, which fared relatively well during the recession, homes lost between 7 percent and 10 percent of their value. Sharp declines in home values, coupled with high mortgage debt, should translate to financial disaster. However, while home values dropped more than 7 percent in Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey - states where mortgage debt is the highest - foreclosure rates stayed low.

Rutgers economist James Hughes says there's a left-handed benefit of all the red tape Jersey builders go through to put up a house....the state did not see a big housing bubble burst.

He says, "we have low levels of construction, and that meant we didn't have an overproduction of housing and we didn't have the resulting foreclosures from having too many housing units out there."

Also, Jersey's median household income is above 67-thousand, second-highest in the Nation.