From the Philly Inquirer:
New Jersey’s economy is slow-growing, but it continues to generate extraordinarily high incomes. In 2005, New Jersey had the highest median household income among the 50 states.
If New Jersey were a country, it would be the wealthiest on earth, followed by Luxembourg.
Unfortunately, this rosy picture has a blemish: We also rank No. 1 in median housing costs.
While our median income is 27 percent higher than the national median, our housing costs are 52 percent higher. So much of our income advantage is needed to cover our higher housing costs, and we really aren’t as well off as the income statistics suggest.
Unaffordable housing and other high costs of living are driving people out of the state in alarming numbers.
Our population is growing slowly – and we are facing potential population losses – because of what the Census Bureau calls “net internal out-migration.”
Simply put, more people are moving from New Jersey to other parts of the country than are moving into the state from the rest of the country. And the exodus is accelerating.
In 2002, 23,704 more people moved from New Jersey to other states than moved into it from other states. The loss grew to 33,225 in 2003, 45,045 in 2004, 56,989 in 2005, and 72,547 last year. At this rate, the state will have a net internal-migration loss of more than 100,000 people by 2009.
The factors contributing to this, in addition to housing affordability, are high taxes of all types, the loss of high-paying science and technology jobs, and weak overall job growth – even as competitor states, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, offer more economic opportunities.
Population losses, in turn, impact labor supply. Jobs cannot be created without skilled people to fill them and affordable homes for people to live in.
There are no easy prescriptions for these demographic trends.
Crafting simultaneous and interrelated policies to address housing affordability, protect our high quality of life and the environment, and improve the cost-competitiveness of our economy are key to making tomorrow’s New Jersey attractive enough for people to stay here and for our business community to invest here.