The pros and cons of raising a family in New Jersey
If someone from out of state asked you whether New Jersey is a decent place to raise a family, how would you respond?
According to a new survey that looks at more than 40 key indicators, folks would be better off letting their kids grow up in New Jersey than most other states.
New Jersey is the 12th-best state in which to raise a family, personal finance website WalletHub claims. The state earns a score of 55.71 out of 100, compared to 63.37 earned by the top state, Massachusetts.
In the socioeconomics category, consisting of 12 indicators, the Garden State is highlighted for recording the third-lowest divorce rate in the nation. New Jersey's overall ranking in the category is 31 out of the 50 states — same for the family fun category.
But the state makes up for those downfalls in the categories of health and safety; affordability; and education and child care.
Perhaps to the surprise of many homeowners, New Jersey ranks second among the states for affordability. While the state scores low for housing affordability and retirement access, the state ranks seventh for median annual family income (adjusted for cost of living) and sixth for the percentage of adults setting money aside for their children's college education.
The state boasts the second-lowest property crime rate at 15.45 incidents per 1,000 residents.
At 90.1 percent, New Jersey's public high school graduation rate ranks second nationwide.
"If you look at the amount spent on education, and education outcomes, I think New Jersey is among the best in the country," said Cecilia Zalkind, president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, responding to the report.
Zalkind noted New Jersey's preschool program may be the best in the country — a full-day offered for 3- and 4-year-olds in 35 low-income communities.
But the state's child care system is struggling, in terms of cost and availability, Zalkind said. While more than 207,000 New Jersey children under the age of 3 live in families where both parents work, licensed child care centers have the capacity to serve roughly 55,600 infants and toddlers, according to a report released last spring by ACNJ.
Zalkind said if she were asked by an outsider whether they should move to New Jersey to raise a family, she'd say, "absolutely yes."
"We set a high standard for ourselves as a state," she said. "I think we can always point out areas that need improvement, but we have some fundamental opportunities for children here that are unique."
Scoring 32.68 out of 100 in the report, New Mexico ranks as the worst state in which to raise a family.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.