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Economic Security Gets an Average Grade [AUDIO]

New Jersey lawmakers could be doing much more to improve the economic security of their constituents, according to a state-by-state scorecard from Wider Opportunities for Women(WOW).

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The state received a ‘C’ for policy choices made by legislators that directly affect families’ and seniors’ economic security, or their ability to afford basic needs like housing and food. The scorecard examined 85 policy choices.

New Jersey ranked seventh among the states and the District of Columbia, which means a ‘C’ grade isn’t too harsh when considering the nation as a whole.

“(New Jersey) received the second-highest number of A’s, but it also received a lot of F’s and D’s,” said WOW Acting President and CEO Shawn McMahon.

The state saw grades in the ‘A’ range for expanding family leave, as well as its policy of allowing a resident to freeze their credit scores when there’s the potential for identity theft or fraud, but New Jersey received failing grades for a lack of sound sick day policies.

Minimum wage was another category that dragged down New Jersey’s grade. The state’s minimum wage is in line with the federal level, which doesn’t go well with a high cost of living, and New Jersey doesn’t have a minimum wage update policy like other states.

“We found that in New Jersey, costs exceed income significantly,” McMahon added.

The scorecard also looked at affordability; New Jersey ranked 33rd among the states.

McMahon noted the cost of housing in New Jersey is very high, while other expenses like transportation are more affordable.

“It’s always the tendency to complain about a policy and to look for more from the government, and that’s often a good thing” McMahon said. “For the average person, hopefully this will provide some understanding of where their state stands relative to other states.”

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