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Poverty Jumps to Five-Decade Record [POLL/AUDIO]

There are more New Jerseyans engulfed in poverty than at any point in the last 50 years, according to a new report from Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ).

Poverty
Camden battles poverty (Andrew Burton, Getty Images)

The picture could become even bleaker when new Census figures are made public next week.

At 250 percent of the federal poverty level, considering the state’s high cost of living, there are 2.7 million New Jersey residents living in real poverty.

“That’s an awful lot of people. That’s more than a quarter of the population,” said Melville Miller, LSNJ President. “They may not be getting an adequate amount of food; they may not have the amount of clothing that’s considered minimally necessary; they may have shelter, housing issues.”

The report, Poverty Benchmarks 2013, states, “The percentage and numbers of people living in poverty have increased each year since 2007 (the beginning of the recession), culminating in record highs in 2011, and approaching a level last experienced in New Jersey more than 50 years ago.”

An LSNJ report issued in May found that an average family of four in New Jersey needs anywhere from $64,238 to $73,371 to squeak by with no extras for emergencies or savings.

“It’s very troubling,” added Miller. “It’s very, very disturbing.”

The seventh annual study suggested the economy continues to crunch many New Jersey residents. The recession may have ended years ago, but the recovery has been painfully slow. The study noted that median incomes in 2011 were actually lower than 2006 levels.

Allan Lichtenstein, one of LSNJ’s principal researchers, said if not for safety net programs like food stamps and earned income tax credits, poverty would have been even higher in the Garden State.

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