A millennial exodus out of New Jersey, driven by high taxes and cost of living? That’s not entirely the case, according to a new report by the advocacy group New Jersey Policy Perspectives.
NJPP’s report, released Monday, suggests that although millennials (defined in the report as the 18-39 age group) are indeed leaving the state, it’s not at a higher rate than any time between 2004 and today.
On top of that, the rate of millennials leaving New Jersey isn’t any different from the rate of that same group leaving “comparable” states.
“Basically we’re stable and other states around us are pretty stable,” said Cliff Zukin from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and an advisor for the study. “You see the same pattern for New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut.”
“There’s no crisis here, there aren’t people leaving the state,” Zukin added.
The practicum was prepared by NJPP, advised and directed by Zukin and carried out by graduate students at the Bloustein School.
More importantly than high taxes, millennials are hounded by expensive housing, low wages and growing student debt, the report says, adding these factors have stifled economic opportunities and left many in the age group living at home with their parents.
“More New Jerseyans than in any other state live at home, than parents and relatives and so forth,” Zukin said. “It’s actually been climbing up in the last 10 years.”
The report looked at data from the United States Census Bureau, which includes numbers stretching back to 1962.
In addition, the report relied on data collected by a statewide Rutgers-Eagleton Poll conducted in November, which asked respondents how they felt about the state’s quality of life, whether they’d move out of their neighborhood or state given the chance and their thoughts on the quality of life in their neighborhood, town or city and the state as a whole.
The Eagleton questions found that roughly the same number of young adults and older adults rated New Jersey as a “good or excellent” place to live.
To make New Jersey a better place to live, lawmakers and public officials should focus on more state aid to the public universities, boosting the minimum wage to $15 an hour and finding ways to clamp down on housing costs, said Brandon McKoy, director of government and public affairs at NJPP.