Written by Tom Williams Thursday, March 14, 2013 02:32 pm
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New Jersey is a unique state. When you drive around parts of Salem or Cumberland counties, past the farms and open spaces, it is hard to believe that New Jersey has more people per square mile (1,189) than any other state in the union. For comparison, New York has 412 and Pennsylvania 284.
Then, when you drive around North Jersey and see residences piled on top of each other in thousands of apartment buildings, it is hard to understand how New Jersey came to be called The Garden State.
Numbers are interesting, and they usually tell a story. Here are some of New Jersey’s numbers.
2 – where New Jersey ranks among the other states regarding their admission to the union. Delaware (“The First State”) was admitted to the union on Dec, 8, 1787, just 11 days before the Garden State.
3 – the number of New Jersey cities who are listed among the 50 cities in America with the highest degree of air pollution. Paterson is No. 21 on the list, Atlantic City is No. 36 and Newark No. 44. Do you also wonder how Atlantic City’s air is worse than Newark? The worst city in America is Visalia, California. Others on the list include No. 10 Las Vegas, No. 26 Philadelphia and No. 48 Pittsburgh.
3.50 – the average gas price in New Jersey at the end of February, the eight lowest in the country. Wyoming has the lowest (3.28) and the highest is in Hawaii (4.39). A big reason is New Jersey’s low gas taxes, currently 32.9 percent. Only two states have lower gas tax rates – Alaska (26.4 percent) and Wyoming (32.4). The highest gas taxes are in Connecticut (80.6 percent).
4.7 – the average number of gun deaths per 100,000 of population, a low number because of reasonable gun laws. Only Massachusetts (3.1) has a better record. The worst are Louisiana and Wyoming, at 18.1 deaths out of 100,000.
6.15 – the percentage of residents who speak only Spanish. It is the eighth highest percentage in the country. California has the highest (13.7 percent) and Maine (0.22 percent) the lowest.
8.2 – The divorce rate in New Jersey, the second lowest in the country. Only North Dakota (8.1) is lower. The highest divorce rate is in Nevada (14.2).
8.6 – the percentage of New Jersey residents who use food stamps or EBT cards, the third lowest total in the country. Only New Hampshire and Wyoming have lower rates. The highest is Mississippi at 20.8 percent.
18.0 – the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s Disease per 100,000 of population, the country’s sixth lowest total. New York (9.9) is the best, Washington (45.7) is the worst.
23.8 – the percentage of New Jersey residents considered obese, the 11th lowest total. The highest obese rating is in 34.0 percent in Mississippi, the lowest is 21.0 percent in Colorado.
46.8 – the percentage of Garden State homeowners who have a mortgage that is higher than the current value of their home. The worst rate (52.2) is in California, the best (21.3) in North Dakota. New Jersey is 10th highest.
53.37 – the percentage of people born in New Jersey who still reside in the state. It’s the 35th highest total. Louisiana (79.37) is first and Nevada (21.30) is last.
76 – the percentage of law students who pass the bar in the state. The national average is 76.5, the best rate is 89 percent in Montana and Wisconsin and the worst is 42 percent in California.
79.7 – the average life expectancy at birth for New Jersey residents, the nation’s 13th highest age. The highest is 81.5 years in Hawaii and the lowest is 74.8 in Mississippi.
638 – the average cost (in dollars) of home insurance in New Jersey, 25th among the states. The most expensive is Oklahoma (1572) and the cheapest is Idaho (405).
676 – the average credit score of New Jersey residents, fourth highest in America. The highest score is 681 in Wisconsin, the lowest 618 in Mississippi.
1506 – the average SAT score for New Jersey students, just the 36th best in the nation. Iowa (1813) is No. 1 and the District of Columbia (1379) is No. 51.
24,313 – NJ’s number of DUI arrests in 2012. California (214,828) had the most and the District of Columbia (32) had the fewest.
67,458 – the average income of New Jersey residents in 2011, a $7500 increase over the last seven years. The Garden State ranks third, behind No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 Alaska. The lowest (36,619) is in Mississippi.
106,922 – number of births in New Jersey in 2012, the 11th highest total in the country. California had the most, Vermont the fewest.
299,000 – the average cost (in dollars) of homes purchased in 2011, tied with California for fifth in the nation. The most expensive was Hawaii (425,000) and the cheapest was Michigan (114,000).
909,000 – the number of tourists who visited New Jersey in 2012, the ninth highest state. California (6.3 million) is first. By the way, the USA ranks third only to France and Spain in the number of tourists.
1,446,000 – the number of bottles of wine produced in New Jersey, the eighth highest total in the USA. The tops is 638,400,000 in California.
All in all, the Garden State seems to stack up pretty well in the numbers game.
Words to remember: “New Jersey shaped who and what I am. Growing up in Jersey gave you all the advantages of New York and Philadelphia, but in their shadow. Anyone who’s come from New Jersey will probably tell you the same story” (Jon Bon Jovi)
(This At Large column, along with previous editions, can be found online at opinion.shorenewstoday.com.)