A new report released June 15 by personal finance website WalletHub ranked New Jersey as the best state to live in for 2021.
WalletHub, in its annual survey, said New Jersey ranked in the top 10 for safety, quality of life, education and health. Massachusetts came in second place and New York in third place.
“fact check: TRUE,” reads a response on the official New Jersey Twitter account.
In other factors like affordability, New Jersey came in close to last, scoring 49th place, ahead of only California. WalletHub listed New Jersey as having one of the lowest crime rates.
fact check: TRUE pic.twitter.com/qc5zSagdOG
— New Jersey (@NJGov) June 15, 2021
The topic of whether New Jersey is a popular state to live in or leave has become a polarizing debate across the business and political realms of the state.
Conservative lawmakers and pro-business groups contend that the high cost of living and cost of doing business have pushed many people out of New Jersey and toward lower-cost states.
The New Jersey Society of CPAs, in a June survey, said that more than half of the accountants interviewed recommended their clients to relocate out of the state given its high cost of doing business. Moving company United Van Lines has, in numerous reports, listed New Jersey as the top state for customers to utilize moving services for relocating to a different state.
But U.S. Census data released in April defied any such narrative, showing that the state population grew from nearly 8.8 million in 2010 to more than 9.2 million in 2020.
“The Census results we received today are a testament to what we’ve known all along: That New Jersey is the best state in the nation to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in an April 26 statement. “Whether it’s having the number one public schools in the nation, investing in world-class transit and infrastructure, or building an economy that works for every family, we are making investments that will support our state and people for the next decade and beyond.”
In a 2019 address, Murphy dubbed New Jersey “the ‘good value for money’ state.”
“Whether you were born here, or moved here later in life, you knew New Jersey was never an inexpensive place,” he said. “But you knew that by living here, or putting your business here, you had a better shot to make it than if you had gone anywhere else.”
Former state economist Charles Steindel, in an April analysis from the conservative think tank Garden State Initiative, disputed the census data.
He said the numbers could have been the result of more aggressive marketing efforts to garner more responses or a glut of students staying at home when the census was done during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, or migrants from Puerto Rico.
“[T]he implication is that New Jersey’s unusually large undercount had little or nothing to do with a perceived improvement in our state’s general economic climate,” Steindel said.
In October that year, Murphy at a public appearance at Rowan University commented that “If you’re a one-issue voter, and tax rate is your issue – either a family or a business, if that’s the only basis upon which you’re going to make a decision, we’re probably not your state.” The statements have since drawn the ire of GOP lawmakers.