From the Record:
Years of economic malaise showed broad signs of lifting in 2015 across the United States as higher incomes and other beacons of rising prosperity helped reverse nearly a decade of woe following one of the worst recessions in history.
In a sign of the state’s continuing economic struggles, data released today by the Census Bureau showed that New Jersey lagged behind the rest of the country on a series of economic measures last year, including a 0.3 percent increase in median household income that ranked last among the 50 states.
The picture was much brighter in Bergen County, where the median rose 5.1 percent, to $89,023. But it fell 4.8 percent in Passaic County.
The state data, reflecting a period when New Jersey showed relatively strong job gains concentrated in lower-paying industries, also revealed some of the weakest improvements in the country in wages, poverty and per capita income.
Indeed, the report suggests that New Jersey may be turning the corner in its recovery, as even small improvements are better than the stagnant conditions of prior years. The state, with its broad economic base and relatively well-educated population, also remains among the wealthiest states, with a current median household income of $72,222, according to the report, known as the American Community Survey. Other economic reports, meanwhile, have shown rising employment and wage gains closer to national averages.
“If the numbers are for real, it suggests that the economy really is in a catch-up position,” said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “One year does not a trend make. But when your rankings are so low, you have to wonder, are we are in deep trouble?”