Stockton report highlights South Jersey’s economic woes
New Jersey is one of the smallest states in the country, but there's a stark difference between the success and health of a resident in South Jersey, compared to Central and North.
According to a report released by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, six of the eight South Jersey counties rank in the bottom 10 for several key economic indicators, including median household income, poverty, unemployment, educational attainment and health outcomes.
Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Ocean and Salem counties scored poorly in each category. Burlington and Gloucester boasted better marks.
Study author Kelly Sloane said a number of the included metrics are interrelated and "predictive of children's outcomes."
"For example, kids whose parents have higher educational attainment rates tend to have comparable rates of education," she said.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the study found 36.1 percent of New Jersey's population over the age of 24 had received a bachelor's degree or higher. In Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, however, that figure stood at 14.7 percent, 20.5 percent and 24.4 percent respectively.
Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May, meanwhile, ranked among the bottom four counties for median household income, coming in way below the state average.
Sloane said the South-Central-North divide is related to a large difference in opportunities.
"The North enjoys the benefit of being attached to the New York Metro, as opposed to the southern counties that are attached to the Philadelphia Metro," she said.
Sloane said business development is slower in South Jersey as well, reflecting a shortage of high school and college diplomas in the region.
A separate report from Harvard on low-income families, titled The Equality of Opportunity Project, notes a child's success is largely dependent on the county in which they live. Atlantic County ranked in the bottom 1 percent nationwide for income mobility of children.