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May 13, 2015

Report: South Jersey economy trails rest of state

Six of the eight counties in South Jersey rank in the bottom 10 of the state’s 21 counties in income, poverty and unemployment rates, educational attainment levels and health incomes, according to a recent study, Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

The study, conducted by Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, found that three of the four counties with the lowest median household income are from South Jersey, and five South Jersey counties were among the 10 with the highest poverty rates. South Jersey counties also ranked low in the state for the number of high school and college graduates.

“In the state of New Jersey, while the stark poverty of residents living in cities like Newark and Trenton tends to be segregated, it is nonetheless more visible than the poverty and limited employment opportunities experienced by many residents living in New Jersey’s rural, suburban and exurban communities,” the report said. 

Atlantic County, which has been ravaged by the closing of four casinos last year that affected 10,000 workers, had the highest unemployment rate (10.9 percent) in the state, well above the state (6.4 percent) and national (5.8 percent) averages and just above nearby Cumberland (10.7 percent) and Cape May (9.9 percent) counties.

“In part, sprawl makes South Jersey’s economic inequality less conspicuous even though the data collected in this paper illustrates that six of the eight Southern counties experience some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment, have the lowest median incomes and achieve some of the lowest educational attainment and health rankings among the 21 counties in the state,” the report said.

Read more from Philadelphia Business journal or view the full 57-page report.