Study: Many Brick Residents Struggle to Make Ends Meet

Cost of living in N.J., other factors cited

The telltale signs that local residents are struggling range from the minor, perhaps keeping an older car a year or two longer than planned – to the catastrophic, losing one's home and the middle class lifestyle that came with it.

Regardless of one's view on whether the "Great Recession" is in a state of recovery or still raging on, there is no question that local residents have been greatly affected and continue to struggle, a report released last week shows.

United Way recently released the report, five years in the making, to document the number, location and experiences of New Jersey families whose members are working, yet "who live each day one crisis away from falling into poverty."

The report is known as the ALICE project, which is an acronym for "Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed."

The findings are startling.

Ocean County, at 33 percent, had the highest percentage of households that fell into the ALICE category of any county statewide. The study showed it takes $60,697 for a family of two adults, an infant and a toddler to afford the basics - nearly triple the U.S. poverty rate of $22,113.

In Brick, specifically, between 21 and 30 percent of households fall below the ALICE threshhold, which the group also called its "Household Survival Budget."

The families studied make more than the official poverty level, but "way less than an individual or family needs to sustain a reasonably healthy standard of living."

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, the median income for a household in Brick was $65,129.

When we asked Brick residents on our Brick Patch Facebook page Tuesday if they were struggling, many answered that they were.

Joanna Brandao-Henderson said her family lost their home in Brick, and even after cutting back on expenses across the board and shopping at discount stores, her family still struggles.

"We are trying to keep our heads above water, but if the prices go up anymore, who knows what will happen," she said. "My whole family packed up and moved to Florida. We may have to move there too."

Besides the most commonly-discussed reasons for New Jersey's high cost of living – relatively high property values, as well as a high property tax burden to go with them – the doubled unemployment rate from 4.3 percent to near 9 percent in the wake of the recession, as well as an evolution of the job market to more service-sector jobs from professional and skilled positions is to blame for struggles, the study said.

"Long- term structural changes to the job market, including underemployment and the dominance of the service sector, are also cause for concern."

More than 70 percent of Ocean County's jobs projected to be created through 2018 will be what the state Department of Workforce and Labor Development term "low skilled."

According to the report: "Future income opportunities will be limited for ALICE households due to high underemployment, continued dominance of low-paying jobs, and the lack of demand for jobs requiring more education."

While the picture painted by the study may seem bleak, its authors offer some suggestions for repairing the financial conditions of New Jersey's struggling families: invest in automation to reduce the need for low-skilled workers and encourage growth in skilled and professional occupations in the public and private sectors; and increase the number of jobs that pay the "Household Survival Budget wage" of $14.62 per hour.

The group also suggested increasing the availability of so-called "microloans," small loans provided to struggling borrowers with little credit history or collateral, to help bridge tough times and lessen the burden on social welfare program budgets and private charitable organizations.

Chief Wahoo September 05, 2012 at 05:04 PM
do you even understand what you just posted.....you just confirmed HOUSE RICH !!
WMS826 September 05, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Each party looks for someone to get "that" vote. The Republicans wanted Rubio to get the Hispanic vote. Obama will get the Black vote. Who will work to get the vote of the white middle class is my question. Answer is nobody because as long as you refuse to look at yourselves as a voting block or special interest group you are nothing. You are a divided amount of people with no voice.
J September 05, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Sorry was feeling a bit bitter. My house is wee and i'm taxed out the arse...
J September 05, 2012 at 05:32 PM
BW September 05, 2012 at 09:03 PM
It never ceases to amaze me. Just once maybe we could stay on topic. This article is not about black, white, orange or purple. It is not about Republicans or Democrats. The article is about the tax payers getting tax right out of their homes, here in Brick so the Mayor can have a yacht club, and a political buddy gets to build a solar field on your dime, it is about the games, the lies and the threats the Mayor has used to tax you out of your homes. Seriously, get your heads out of your butts, knock it off with the racial comments, and the political attacks, and DO something instead of acting like a bunch of children.
Jerry Belle September 05, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Who owns the 40 acres of land that you wrote about in your post? Where has this planning been mentioned, can you cite your source? I would like to read up on it. Thank you.
Jerry Belle September 05, 2012 at 10:38 PM
One would think that with 13 million people unemployed (equates to an 8.3 unemployment rate) and millions more underemployed the government would know that fact, but they'd rather argue about tax returns or college transcripts.
Jerry Belle September 05, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I understand your attempts at going back to basics and doing without, but it still doesn't change that gas is $380 or so a gallon, milk is $4.00 or so a gallon, the cans and boxes and bottles have all gotten smaller, but still cost the same or even slightly more and it eats up the minimal savings you get from giving up convenience. With debt at $16 Trillion (and I could not care less how it reached that point - both sides played a role) our kids, grandchildren and their children and so on...will be crushed under that debt for generations and there are not enough little things to give up to make a dent.
Jerry Belle September 05, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Not even sure if you can say "House rich" anymore. I have neighbors that paid in the $400,000 range for homes that are now worth less than $300,000 and they still pay mortgages that get them nowhere, notwithstanding the high prices of property taxes in town..
Jerry Belle September 05, 2012 at 10:49 PM
The recent administration and the past administrations leave much to be desired. If Billy Martin of the Yankees were here he'd probably reply to our last few Mayors (Scarpelli and Acropolis) with something like - One's a convicted thief and one was born a thief....
none of yobusiness September 05, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I agree with many in this thread. I just would like to know whats the answer. How do I get out of my house that nobody wants to buy and flee elsewhere? Im tired of it also. I work between 55-60hrs a week travel an hour to and fro, my wife works and we have a baby on the way. We would be living like kings in another state if we could find jobs paying the same or close. New Jersey is not for the middle class any more. In short time all that will be left is millionaires and welfare receiptants. Sad huh?
Jim September 06, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Well said. There is no diffference between Republicans and Democrats. It is a crying shame to see good people taxed out of their own homes. Of course we can afford trillions to bail out the primary dealer banks. If you want an eye opening experience go research who the primary shareholders of the Federal Reserve Bank are. We won independence in 1776. Struggled to keep it for 100 or so years. Then lost it in a coup in 1913.
Jim September 06, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I would bet every homeowner in NJ ask themself that question. Look at the property taxes on the waterfront homes on Princeton Ave. You have got to be kidding me. All those retirees moving to retirement communities in daisy land NC or SC are going to have a rude awakening. Actually its their heirs that will have the rude awakening. They build these communities in the middle of nowhere. Local economy totally dependent or retiree income mostly funded via social security. A disaster waiting to happen. The reason you stay in NJ is because the grass is not greener on the other side. NJ must be fixed. Once the inevitable collapse happens the irate will finally force change.
brick mom 61 September 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
This goes beyond township politics. I am a single mother of 3 that makes what would be a very nice wage in any other states, but in NJ is not enough to get by. I commute 60+ miles one way to work. I have 1 child in college, and twins that are seniors. I can't afford in state college tuition for 3 kids, never mind out of state, while kids in other states can attend 4 yr. colleges at a reasonable cost. My oldest is attending community college and will transfer to a 4 yr. school next yr. There is no savings, no planning for retirement. We don't live extravegantly- no dinners out, take out 2 or 3 times a month. My kids all work and pay for their gas, spend money, and clothes. It is so difficult to live here, yet I love all NJ has to offer.
Slippery Slope September 06, 2012 at 12:05 PM
The system is collapsing. It is just a matter of time. Not long either. Every town, county, state and the feds are broke. They are all in debt beyond the taxpayers ability to pay off the bonds.
So Much to Say September 06, 2012 at 01:33 PM
@WMS826 Glad you brought up that subject.....See how Michelle Obama feels about whites. Also see the movie 2016. http://obamaprincetonthesis.wordpress.com/
disgusted homeowner September 06, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Way too many people started living way beyond their respective incomes 10 to 15 yrs ago. 2 expensive cars in the driveway, more than i vacation a year, and using the equity in their home like a credit card. Now it's payback time and most folks cannot pay back what they borrowed. If your income drops, it's time to "downsize" your lifestyle. Some folks do, and many others don't. They will keep their $200 a month cable package on right up to the day their house is sold at a sheriff's sale. Some people cannot let certain things go and are determined to live a certain way whether they can pay their hardcore bills ( mortgage, taxes and utilities) or not. Oh and when junior turns 17 he winds up with a newer car than mom or dad are driving. 5 cable tv setups in one house, cell phones galore even for an 8 yr. old. People are living way over their heads and really have to get back to basics to survive !!!!!
Mark Story Jenks September 06, 2012 at 10:09 PM
That may be so for some people. I'm not one of them. For those who have been forced from living within their means to beyond, then follow the example above set by Joseph Woolston Brick. Cut out anything you really don't need. TV really DOES work just fine with an over-the-air antenna. No monthly bill. Fast internet access may be on my chopping block very soon. Might be able to latch on to an unsecured wireless signal from across the River. I really want to say goodbye to Comcast.
Mark Story Jenks September 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Basic cable tv was around $6.95 a month when it first came out in Herbertsville. In the early 70's I think.
WMS826 September 07, 2012 at 01:01 AM
There will always be wants vs needs. I do not miond paying cable bill, but now it is over 100.00 and everything has commecials on it anyway. What am I paying for then, These networks should pay Comcast to carry them or no one would see their programs and they could not generate advertising revenue. Who is representing us to make certain we have jobs, and good paying ones. Answer is no one because you, the middle class is not organized.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:08 AM
These hard times were in large part brought to us courtesy of the GOP, their Wall Street traitor friends and the corporations. The blame Obama right wing are by and large uneducated to the facts.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:27 AM
You are very right. What we all pay for Television and phone can be ridiculous. And ya know Joe Wools, that the Verizon CEO had a private VIOS line run to his hotel/mansion on Princeton Avenue. The service is not available to rank and file Verizon account holders - let em eat cake. This while guys like Drysdale wonder if they will be homeless. They are my favorite people to dislike after opening some of their "surprise" bills and their forcing workers out - replacing them with cheap, imported labor. You are so right. We need to quit supporting these greedy corporate interests by not buying into all of their gadgetry. If people are reluctant to get rid of their land line they should at the least consider cancelling the Long Distance Service on the line. It is a separate charge and with tax can be pricey, even if you never use it. In instances where people also have cell phones, they may be paying for duplication of services. Our landlines in my part of Brick are so antiquated we can't use them when it rains. Verizon refuses to upgrade them. No one is arguing to get the services for free - but what they are doing is gouging plain and simply. Ya don't build those hotels on the water by making a living.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Well I know a "hotel" we can all hole up in. lol
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Geez WM I have been pleading this for years. Voted Ross for Boss - listened to Ron Paul - didn't agree with him on a lot but was considering him anyway. We see what happened to him - they shut him out of the RNC so fast it made his head spin. It doesn't take an Einstein to understand what Einstein said - The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. Republicrats, Democrats All the same. Tired of voting lesser of two evils. Loved Bill Clinton the other night - but let's not forget Bubba supported NAFTA! How anyone can vote for a Republicrat eludes me. I think it is the senile who still think the Republicans are the party of Reagan. 2016 - THIRD PARTY CANDIDATE, GRASS ROOTS!!!! Is there a hero amongst us?
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:40 AM
You are wrong BW, it is ALL about Republicrats and Democrats. They have been in our pockets so badly over the last two decades at every turn they have driven our whole system broken and poor.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Geez, noneofyour, My other half leaves for work at four o'clock in the morning doing the Parkway run north. What always struck me was even at that hour there are women with the baby car seats commuting. This is the very real price we pay courtesy of the thieves in our pockets.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Very true. However I will say that two cars is no longer a luxury. Jobs with real wages are by and large only available within considerable commutation distance. Maintaining two vehicles is no choice in a state lacking mass transit infrastructure. I think the old paradigm of living in the cities will once again be necessary - unless we go green car and/or rapid transit.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Yah and I have heard from older people that when cable first came out - there were no commercials! That was the big draw commercial free television.
KC September 07, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Technically that would be, "we the middle class ARE not organized." So let's organize.
DDJA March 21, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Politicians and FEMA officials MUST understand the long term devastating impact of forcing people to elevate their homes. Most people in Brick are middle-class. In addition, the cost that is attached to elevating homes is EXTREME!!!! Why is NJ being asked to absorb such insane costs, when in fact, other parts of the country have not?? It sickens me that we pay such high taxes in this state....and this is the %@#*$^ we get for it. People will walk away from their homes or have to give them away....and guess what... this WILL impact those people who think they are not impacted by these proposed flood zones.....watch.


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