New Jersey has been suffering through continuing economic troubles. At the start of the legislative session, Senate President Steve Sweeney held a news conference to announce that same-sex marriage was his party’s “number one priority”.
This announcement was made with New Jersey’s unemployment rate at 9.2 percent and 60,000 New Jersey workers set to lose their unemployment benefits. It was made with New Jersey’s foreclosure rate at 8.2% – second only to Florida – and with the building/construction sector’s unemployment at 14.7 percent.
A report earlier this month showed poverty in New Jersey is at a 52 year high. That’s one out of every four New Jersey residents in poverty – more than two million people. And it is not just the big urban centers suffering from poverty. Look at the poverty levels in the counties that make up Steve Sweeney’s own district:
– 37 percent of the people in Cumberland County live in poverty – 2ndhighest in the state.
– In Salem County, 30.8 percent of its people live in poverty.
– Even in Gloucester County, Sweeney’s home, the rate is – at 18.5 percent – above the national poverty rate of 15 percent.
A record high of more than 630,000 children — 31.2 percent — live in poverty in New Jersey. 32.8 percent of the state’s 18 to 24 year olds now live in poverty. Why is attention being taken away from them and the focus placed on social issues?