“Everything is expensive here”

From the Herald News:

Cost of living a challenge in N.J.

Every week, Giuseppe Morello sadly watches the bills whittle away at his salary as a pipe-fitter.

First comes the $170 a week for health insurance, as his job doesn’t cover it. Then subtract $23 for dental. After taxes, his mortgage and car insurance, hardly anything remains from the $1,000 he started with.

“It’s hard. I work just to pay the bills,” said Morello, 57, of Hawthorne.

Many New Jersey families share Morello’s struggles. A poll released Tuesday found that most respondents can barely keep up with the state’s rising cost of living.

The Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll, which surveyed 804 adults in April, found many of the state’s households require more than one income and fewer than half saved enough to cover an emergency.

“The survey confirms what everybody realizes,” said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “New Jersey is an extraordinary expensive place to live.”

Sixty percent of respondents said their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living. That’s compared to 40 percent nationally, according to a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center.

New Jersey’s high incomes paint a deceptive notion of comfort, Hughes said. The state has the highest median income of the nation, running some 32 percent beyond the national average, according to the Census.

But the state’s costs eat up much of that cushion, Hughes said. New Jersey’s housing expenses, for example, run 52 percent higher than the national average, the Census shows.

“The rising cost of living in New Jersey is a major problem for families at every income level,” said Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University Polling Institute director.

The income crunch, Hughes said, has helped drive the rising number of residents leaving the state. In 2002, 24,000 more people left than moved in, the Census found. By last year, the figure almost tripled, coming to roughly 73,000.

Still, that number is fraction of the state’s more than 8 million people. Immigrants still pour into the state, but rising rental costs – even in urban areas – could take a toll on that trend, Hughes said.

“There’s really nothing on the horizon that’s going to change things,” he said.

Morello doesn’t see much improvement in his immediate future. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.

This entry was posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to “Everything is expensive here”

  1. sas says:

    “$170 a week for health insurance”

    no way? That can’t be true? that what I pay for 2 months of coverage.

    Either I have it really good, or someone is ripping this guy off?

    Any input?

  2. mJM says:

    I bet this pipe-fitter wishes that he joined the union years ago… in nj, you’re either in the union or in the financial services industry… if not, you’re just getting squeezed year after year with no end in sight…

  3. Pat says:

    Sas…that’s not the employee contribution, “as his job doesn’t cover it,” that’s the full premium cost if he has single coverage.

    Yep, should have joined the union. Or he should apply for a cushy job in maintenance at one of the many public institutions close to his home.

  4. RentinginNJ says:

    The state has the highest median income of the nation, running some 32 percent beyond the national average

    My salary is definitely not 32% higher that it would be somewhere else in the U.S.; I would say it’s closer to 10% – 12% higher.

    The 32% figure that is often used to paint New Jersey as a “wealthy ” state is highly skewed. Public sector union jobs make far more in NJ than in other places. Police probably make 50% – 100% more than in other locations. Where else can a patrolman pull in over $100k? Financial services also skew the numbers at the high end.

  5. SG says:

    RentinginNJ: I agree.

    My wife is recruiter for large company. They hire people all over the country. I was surprised to see that for Technical jobs, salaries in NC was actually about same as NJ. Houses & Taxes in NC are about 50% of what we have to pay in NJ.

  6. xsparta says:

    Yes $170/week for health insurance is not out of the question. i retired a few years ago and I had a 6 month gap before Medicare kicked in. With a few minor medical conditions, a policy cost me $800 per month. I can only assume sas the writer is young. You can get a BC/BS basic policy for $75 a month if you are 25 years old and in good health. If you are in bad health and qualify for a policy under the HIPPA laws, it could cost $1200 a month! More than some mortgage payments including mine.

  7. Lindsey says:

    The income crunch, Hughes said, has helped drive the rising number of residents leaving the state. In 2002, 24,000 more people left than moved in, the Census found. By last year, the figure almost tripled, coming to roughly 73,000.

    I’ve got only one problem with this. The population of the state, according to the census bureau, is rising. Now I guess it could be due to more births than deaths, but it seems odd that the state could lose, I don’t know 150K people? to immigration over 5 years but still add 300K since the 2000 census. That’s 450K babies without any deaths. If even only 100K people in NJ died over the last five years, that means 8.4 million people had 550K babies. It seems like an awful lot.

  8. lisoosh says:

    Health insurance costs not that surprising.
    Family coverage through a small business (if the business doesn’t pay some of it) runs around $650 a month.
    I looked up family coverage once on an independant basis when I stopped working and my husbands company didn’t offer insurance – came to something like $2000 a month even with a really high deductable. Taking the chance that no-one will contract a major disease, it is just easier to pay as you go – a doctor visit is around $60. How often do you go to the doctor?

    It’s no wonder so many workers go without insurance.

  9. chicagofinance says:

    I have family insurance through my employer. The total gross cost to cover my wife, son and me is $19,500 a year. I am responsible for half of that amount.

    I am not being ripped off. If you pay less for equivalent coverage, you should recognize the full value of the employee benefit you are receiving.

    If you have any major health issues and do not have the bear the brunt of an individual underwriting process, all the more so.

  10. lisoosh says:

    Well, on another note, considering todays profit based health insurance systems, with 30% going directly to administration and another chunk to big salaries and shareholder dividends, we are all being ripped off.

    But that is a whole other discussion. :-)

  11. RentinginNJ says:


    The statistics cited by Hughes are for internal migration only (i.e. movement of people within the United States). In other words, more people leave NJ than move into New Jersey from other states.

    These statistics don’t account for international immigration. Since 2000, NJ’s population has changed as follows:

    679k births
    -434k deaths
    341k added immigrants
    -271k people leaving NJ
    315k total growth

  12. sas says:

    “I can only assume sas the writer is young”

    Man, I wish I was younger. I guess I have never been sick, and don’t really know anyone to get sick. They are either healthy, or they just died off too damn fast for me to know the financial specifics.

    I forgot from my post, that our employer pays alot of front. So…

    I should be involved more in HR matters, but I am not.


  13. Joeycasz says:

    I have a friend that just moved to NC. He just got a technical job starting him at $40,000. His wife the same and she has more experience. They bought a 2000 Square foot house with 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths for $260,000. The only reason it cost that instead of $200,000 is because it’s in Carey. Here’s the most interesting part. Their taxes are $1700 a year. The people that sold them the house moved to another house in the same area and paid $685,000. Their taxes are only $1900 a year.

  14. Greg says:

    Ok, I have a solution to the problem. Lets elect more liberal democrats (he hehe)

Comments are closed.