Newark tops national welfare ranking, among highest population in need

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 08, 2014

The Brick City has the highest percentage of its residents receiving public assistance, according to a new national ranking. A line forms outside the Essex County Department of Citizen Services in East Orange in this 2009 file photo.

 

NEWARK — Poverty and public assistance are the latest statistics landing the state’s largest city near the top of an unfortunate WalletHub ranking. Newark ranked No. 6 on a list of the cities with the highest percentage of the population in need, and No. 1 on a list ranking the cities across the country with the highest percentage of households on welfare.

To compile the ranking, the finance site considered statistics for the 150 most populated cities across the Unites States. WalletHub considered 16 criteria when giving the cities an overall “population in need” ranking, including poverty rate, unemployment, and the percentage of households receiving public assistance.

Detroit, Mich. topped the population in need list, followed by Jackson, Mo., Memphis, Tenn., Fresno, Calif., Mobile, Ala., and then Newark.

The Brick City topped the ranking of those with the highest percentage of households on welfare. The Essex County Division of Welfare was not immediately available to comment on the statistics, but a WalletHub spokesman said Newark reported 13.19 percent of its households receiving public assistance.

City officials did not reply to a request for comment. Last week, in response to U.S. Census data revealing that Essex County millennials are more likely to be impoverished than their counterparts across the state, County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said it is important “to support projects in Essex County…that spur economic development and create jobs."

DiVincenzo sent a letter to Gov. Chris Christie last week urging Newark to be considered as a possible location for a new casino. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka did not give an opinion on the idea, but did say that he did not have a problem with DiVincenzo’s proposal.

In an interview last week about her upcoming retirement, Essex County Freeholder President Blonnie Watson identified the welfare office as one area that she hopes future county leaders will focus on.

“It’s been a challenge,” she said of bringing reform to the division. “It’s going to be a challenge. But, it’s important to figure out how to better service those who need the services most.”

Newark is a WalletHub favorite. Just this year, the site has named the city the worst in the U.S. for veterans, worst for recreation, the unhappiest city, and the worst big city to start a business in. Newark also ranked No. 2 on the site’s list of the worst cities around the country for retirees, and among the 10 worst cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs.

On the flip side, Sioux Falls, S.D. has the lowest percentage of its population in need, according to WalletHub. See the full ranking here.

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