As New Jersey’s leaders grapple with the issue of affordability for residents and businesses, a new WalletHub study ranked the Garden State as the nation’s worst state for retirement.
The Jan. 24 study by the personal finance publication ranked New Jersey 49th in affordability (just ahead of New York), 34th in quality of life, and 28th in health care quality.
Florida “unsurprisingly” ranked first for retirement, thanks to lower taxes, things to do and the sheer number of fellow retirees, the report said.
WalletHub ranked New Jersey 33rd in annual costs for in-home services, 38th in how elder-friendly the labor market was, and 28th for the percentage of residents aged 65 and above.
Lack of affordability has made its way into debates among policymakers and conversations among residents and business owners.
Only two states have a higher income tax than New Jersey — California and Hawaii — according to the Tax Foundation. In addition, Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative Democrats enacted a millionaire’s tax in 2020, raising the income tax from 8.97% to 10.75% for income above $1 million. The top corporate tax rate of 11.5% is also the nation’s highest, the nonprofit think tank added.
Property taxes and the high cost of living have vexed New Jerseyans for a long time. A November poll from the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University found the topic has been their main concern for the past five decades.
Murphy and other top political leaders have said they want to address the issues but have offered no concrete plans. Several top Democratic lawmakers contended that voters felt as if their concerns were not being heard in the state capital, which led to Republican gains at the ballot box in November.
During his inaugural address last week, Murphy cited more than a dozen tax cuts for Garden State residents, but maintained that more needed to be done.
“After the November election, the governor and legislative leaders of both parties said addressing affordability would be a priority,” Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho, R-24th District, said Jan. 18. “After all that talk, it’s time to show people some real action.”
A WalletHub study from last June ranked New Jersey as the best state to live in for 2021 despite its affordability issues. New Jersey ranked in the top 10 for safety, quality of life, and education and health, though the state still ranked 49th for affordability in the report.