Cities in New Jersey with the most living in poverty

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January 20, 2022
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Cities in New Jersey with the most living in poverty

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. decreased for the fifth consecutive year. Roughly 37 million people, or 11.4 percent of the total population, were living below the poverty line in 2019. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, poverty rates fell due to federal aid. Unemployment benefits kept 5.5 million people from falling into poverty, according to Supplemental Poverty Measure data.

The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds—income before taxes and excluding capital gains or benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps—that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family's total income is less than the family's threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty.

Many experts argue that the poverty measure in the U.S. is a grossly outdated and incomplete barometer of financial security. When you consider the implications of falling on either side of these thresholds—like qualifying for various federal assistance or not— the formula is staggeringly simple. These thresholds are established by tripling the cost of the most basic food plan in 1963—the year they were created— and adjusting for family size and annual inflation. By this definition, the poverty threshold today for a family of four is roughly $26,000 annually; for an individual, that number is $13,000. But the reality of economic hardship does not abide by the output of a calculation, nor is the lived experience the same way from person to person.

Basic needs extend well beyond the cost of food alone, and these thresholds do not reflect this reality. They fail to account for the vast cost of living differences based on geography, the cost of housing, child care, transportation, medical care, or taxes. Additionally, the definition of family is often not reflective of modern society and households.

Because of these factors, poverty looks different from state to state and even city to city. Stacker compiled a list of cities in New Jersey where the most live below the poverty line using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cities with a population of at least 10,000 individuals are ranked by percent of individuals living below the poverty line in 2019.

#20. Phillipsburg
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 17.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 2,500
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 619
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 32.4%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 1,085
- Median household income: $54,459

#19. Elizabeth
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 17.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 22,301
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 4,829
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 25.0%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 8,549
- Median household income: $48,407

#18. East Orange
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 18.0%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 11,342
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 2,103
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 24.6%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 3,656
- Median household income: $48,072

#17. Long Branch
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 18.7%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 5,656
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 1,548
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 28.1%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 1,832
- Median household income: $59,892

#16. Perth Amboy
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 19.0%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 9,716
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 1,933
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 27.8%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 3,842
- Median household income: $52,563

#15. Union City
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 19.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 13,300
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 3,777
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 27.6%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 4,190
- Median household income: $48,992

#14. West New York
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 19.9%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 10,432
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 2,429
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 31.8%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 3,402
- Median household income: $56,436

#13. Plainfield
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 21.2%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 10,510
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 2,454
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 28.8%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 3,641
- Median household income: $56,339

#12. Pleasantville
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 23.2%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 4,625
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 901
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 40.2%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 1,998
- Median household income: $40,991

#11. Glassboro
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 24.4%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 4,287
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 1,387
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 22.4%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 752
- Median household income: $74,222

#10. Asbury Park
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 25.8%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 4,023
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 873
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 44.3%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 1,421
- Median household income: $47,841

#9. Paterson
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 26.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 38,423
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 6,730
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 37.6%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 14,787
- Median household income: $41,360

#8. Newark
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 27.4%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 73,810
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 14,403
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 37.8%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 25,743
- Median household income: $35,199

#7. Passaic
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 28.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 19,955
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 3,629
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 39.5%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 8,843
- Median household income: $40,865

#6. Trenton
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 28.7%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 23,101
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 3,788
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 38.5%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 8,407
- Median household income: $35,402

#5. Lakewood
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 29.6%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 16,062
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 2,991
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 32.9%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 9,494
- Median household income: $50,897

#4. Bridgeton
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 31.2%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 6,479
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 1,288
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 40.9%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 2,934
- Median household income: $37,804

#3. New Brunswick
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 34.4%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 16,180
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 3,928
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 38.2%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 4,760
- Median household income: $43,783

#2. Camden
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 36.4%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 26,107
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 4,621
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 47.4%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 10,703
- Median household income: $27,015

#1. Atlantic City
- Percent of individuals living below the poverty line: 37.1%
--- Total individuals living below the poverty line: 13,999
--- Total employed individuals living below the poverty line: 3,083
- Percent of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 54.2%
--- Total individuals under 18 years old living below the poverty line: 4,967
- Median household income: $29,232

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