NJ Poverty Rates Up In 13 Counties [AUDIO]
Poverty rates are up in New Jersey, in more than 60 percent of the state's counties according to recent U.S. Census figures.
Thirteen of New Jersey's 21 counties experienced significant poverty rate increases for families with children under age 18 between 2007 and 2010, including Bergen, Camden, Cape May, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Union counties.
Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, says the numbers are a concern, "in 2007, 11.4% of all children lived in poverty and in 2010 that had increased to 14.3 %, which is a 25% increase."
It's not just urban areas seeing the spike, Zalkind says Hunterdon and Somerset counties have also an increase. "Its no longer confined to the cities or the poorer rural communities, we are seeing poverty in suburban areas as well."
Zalkind blames the recession and unemployment for the increase. "Its our sense that families on a lower income struggle harder, they don't have the skills, the job market is not as open to them."
The number of New Jersey families with school-age kids in poverty was around 196,400 last year, the most since 1998.
"Even if the economy turned around tomorrow, I think its going to take awhile to really bring these numbers back up to where we have fewer children living in poverty."