School bus to get the kids to school

New Jersey’s public schools ranked near the top in the nation

New Jersey’s public schools ranked near the top in the nation

Reposted from NJ.com

New Jersey’s public schools have been ranked second-best in the nation, based on a study by WalletHub that looked at criteria including test scores, student-teacher ratios and graduate rates.

Only Massachusetts, with an overall total score of 78.16, was ahead of the Garden State, whose schools earned a score of 66.92 on WalletHub’s ranking.

Elsewhere in the region, Delaware was found to have the 12th-best public school system among the states, Pennsylvania the 16th-best with New York roughly in the middle of the pack, at 26.

The website asked a panel of academics who specialize in education to assess the states’ elementary and high schools based on factors including the graduation rate among low-income students; median performance on standardized tests including the ACT, SATs and AP exams; and the percentage of students injured or threatened while in school — part of a broad category the survey lists as “safety.”

According to the WalletHub data, New Jersey schools had the second-lowest dropout rate of any state in the country, the fourth-highest math scores and the fifth-highest reading scores. The state also boasts the third-lowest student-to-teacher ratio of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


 

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Graduating College

Recent college grads are leaving N.J. in record numbers. Here’s why…

Recent college grads are leaving N.J. in record numbers. Here’s why…

Reposted from NJ Advanced Media.com

EDGEWATER — The bed is on an elevated bunk. Below the bed is a desk, dressed with items from college: clothes, books and accessories. The floor is barely visible beneath a slew of still-stuffed bags of clothes.

In 2016, Dina Bardakh, 23, uprooted her life from Hunter College, along with the degree in political science she received, and plopped down inside the 273-square-foot room of her mother’s two-bedroom modest apartment alongside the Hudson River.

A year later Bardakh is still there, in the room she shares with her two teenage sisters.

“I never unpacked,” Bardakh explains. “I never imagined myself back here for as long as I have been. So, what do you do then?”

Bardakh is not the only one asking that question. As another college graduation season comes to an end, and a whole new set of millennials enter the job market, the prospect of recent graduates simply moving out of their parents’ homes is dimmer than ever. According to Census data, 47 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds in New Jersey were still living with their parents in 2015, the highest rate in the country.

The situation shows little sign of improving, either: Data released earlier this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition says tenants need to make $27.31 an hour, the seventh highest in the country, to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey. That makes it virtually impossible for someone making an entry-level salary to afford his or her own place, at least not without teaming up with multiple roommates and/or forgoing other necessities.

Meanwhile, higher education funding has dropped nationwide, including 23 percent in New Jersey from 2008 to 2015. The resulting increased student debt is also keeping many recent grads stuck in their parents’ places.

“It is sort of unprecedented, we would have to go back generations, to come to this situation where grown children live at home to the extent that they are today,” said Dr. James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

In recent years, many frustrated college graduates are giving up the promise of adult life in the New York-New Jersey area altogether. According to the 2007-2014 American Community Survey, 111,674 people age 18-34 moved out of New Jersey, the highest number for an age group in the state.

“I was really hopeful when I started going to college,” Bardakh said. “It was New York City, the capital of the world. I thought there was going to be so many opportunities.”

NJ tops nation in number of millennials living with parents

If you’re a parent in New Jersey and your grown children are still living with you, you have a lot of company.

Bardakh’s story is a familiar one for many recent graduates. She started college at LIU-Brooklyn, before transferring to Hunter. Throughout her college years, she worked part-time, whether it was in retail or as a resident assistant to receive free housing.

She did not, however, secure any internships — the cost of college made it impossible to accept wage-free positions during her summers. That, she said, set her back when it came time to compete for entry-level positions.

After graduation last year, she linked up with multiple temporary work agencies and had her resume sent to hundreds of employers. She eventually landed a position at New York Medicaid Choice (MAXIMUS), where she is an enrollment broker for Medicaid and earns $16 an hour, or about $467 a week after taxes.

To get to work, she relies on the (increasingly unreliable) New Jersey Transit system and pays $300 a month. With $25,000 in student loans, her hopes of a settling down in a place of her own in New Jersey with her longtime boyfriend quickly evaporated. (Her student loan payments are currently deferred because of her low salary.)

“It’s not just about taxes. It is about quality of life,” Brandon McKoy, a policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton think tank. “If the state is not going to do its part to invest in things that people care about when it comes to their quality of life, having affordable living, reliable transportation, well paying jobs, good schools, then it is foolish to expect people to stay here, especially young people.”

Solving this problem, however, may be much easier said then done.

According to Hughes, the downward trajectory began with the financial crisis of 2008, the repercussions of which are still being felt by young people.

“That set back many millennials in their economic progression or career trajectory,” he said. “They may have been unemployed for awhile, under employed or coming out of college. They lost several years of earning growth power during that time period.”

This also means young people just getting out of college find themselves this spring now competing for entry-level jobs with people who graduated years earlier.

McKoy said the Garden State is facing an even harsher burden than most states.

“This is definitely a nationwide issue, but New Jersey is a little bit more drastic because it is a very, very expensive place to live, and this is happening at a time where wages are pretty much stagnant and most people in that age range, especially on the lower half, would be working around minimum wage jobs,” he said.

And, says Hughes, “when you have such a powerful trend such as this, there are no silver bullets to change it. At best, some policies could deflect it slightly.”

McKoy and New Jersey Policy Perspective have eyed a minimum wage raise as a potential policy that could help reverse the trend. (The current minimum wage in the state is $8.44, less than a third of what it would take to afford the average two-bedroom apartment.)

“That set back many millennials in their economic progression or career trajectory,” he said. “They may have been unemployed for awhile, under employed or coming out of college. They lost several years of earning growth power during that time period.”

This also means young people just getting out of college find themselves this spring now competing for entry-level jobs with people who graduated years earlier.

McKoy said the Garden State is facing an even harsher burden than most states.

“This is definitely a nationwide issue, but New Jersey is a little bit more drastic because it is a very, very expensive place to live, and this is happening at a time where wages are pretty much stagnant and most people in that age range, especially on the lower half, would be working around minimum wage jobs,” he said.

And, says Hughes, “when you have such a powerful trend such as this, there are no silver bullets to change it. At best, some policies could deflect it slightly.”

McKoy and New Jersey Policy Perspective have eyed a minimum wage raise as a potential policy that could help reverse the trend. (The current minimum wage in the state is $8.44, less than a third of what it would take to afford the average two-bedroom apartment.)

“If you are living at home, living paycheck-to-paycheck, just to live at home, how are you able to do anything that is required to start your adult life?” McKoy asked.

Others consider leaving altogether, either across the border into parts of Pennsylvania that make a commute into New Jersey still plausible, or to a new state entirely.

The Garden State currently ranks last in the country in terms of net migration of millennials, losing 22,000 in 2015, according to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. By comparison, Pennsylvania gained 19,000 millennials that same year.

But in addition to often disrupting families, mass migration can create what amounts to a kind of cultural and social stagnation that does not auger well for any region.

“To have a whole generation that is unable to engage in risky behavior and unable to engage in innovative behavior is a problem for the future,” says McKoy.

Indeed, Bardakh will be the next to slip across state lines. Her and her boyfriend are moving to Colorado Sept. 1 — a move she said felt right the first step out of the airport.

“As soon as I walked out of the airport, I was like ‘Yes,'” she said. “I made my decision right then and there. I saw the mountains. I breathed the dry air. People consider the skyscrapers (in New York) like landscape and a view. But I am tired. I am there all the time. To me, it represents stress and anxiety. So much stress.”


 

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Hot Air Balloons

Take a look through 35 years of QuickChek balloon festivals

Take a look through 35 years of QuickChek balloon festivals

Reposted from NJ.com

Top 10 Issues Affecting Real Estate in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

Top 10 Issues Affecting Real Estate in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

10 Biggest Threats Facing Real Estate

Global uncertainty and political polarization are the top issues facing the housing industry in 2017 and 2018, according to The Counselors of Real Estate’s annual list of the Top 10 Issues Affecting Real Estate. The list was compiled using feedback from 1,100 real estate advisers from around the world who met at a recent CRE conference.

Many of the issues are interconnected and reflect disruption in the economy and multiple real estate sectors, says 2017 CRE Chairman Scott Muldavin. “Despite this unsettling environment, opportunity remains embedded in every issue on the list,” the CRE report notes. Here are the top 10 issues cited in the report.

1. Political polarization and global uncertainty.“Uncertainty about changes to trade, travel, and immigration policy threaten cross-border investing, hospitality properties, retail, and manufacturing supply chains, among other effects,” the report notes. “Rising interest rates and retail inflation will make middle-class homeownership that much more difficult. Longer-term implications could be much more severe, as polarization prevents long-term fixes to issues such as infrastructure, affordable housing, local and state pension liabilities, and education.”

2. The technology boom. An unprecedented wave of commercial real estate technology innovations are expected to change the way real estate is bought, sold, and managed. Investments in commercial real estate tech startups hit $2.7 billion in 2016. About 1,600 of these startups now exist worldwide. Robots, big data, autonomous vehicles, and online retail are also expected to have a major impact.

3. Generational disruption. “Boomers’ and millennials’ divergent views of where they live, work, and play increasingly impact the property markets,” the report notes. “The generations are crossing paths everywhere: in the workplace, in housing, and at the local bar and grill, intersecting and sharing spaces despite their often disparate priorities when it comes to the built environment.”

4. Retail disruption. “The trend toward transforming retail into ‘experiences’ continues to develop and is offsetting shrinkage in the physical bricks-and-mortar consumer-goods platform,” the report says. “‘Experiential’ retail drives customer traffic to a more diverse and highly participatory environment targeted to a variety of age groups and interests. This sector has transitioned into a kind of ‘Omni Channel’—encompassing e-commerce, reduced or repurposed physical elements, and a host of previously unforeseen spaces, both physical and virtual—with a current emphasis evolved from bricks-and-mortar shopping to the timely, efficient transfer of goods from source to inventory to consumer.”

5. Infrastructure investment. The private sector is directing significant funds to infrastructure projects, recognizing the need and long-term rewards of investing in roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, and airports. Investors now oversee $376 billion in U.S. infrastructure dollars. “It is clear that the need for infrastructure investment is critical,” the report says. “The movement of goods, which involves everything from ports to airports to warehouses to roads, highways and railroads, is further straining an aging and highly vulnerable interior framework. Add to this the need for pipelines, electricity transmission, and water distribution, and the immediacy of infrastructure needs becomes even more pronounced.”

6. Housing disparity. “Safe, decent, affordable housing has been shown to have a stabilizing effect on urban economies, crime, and public health,” according to the report. “A current lack of inventory has generated a spike in home prices and, as a result, declining affordability for many home buyers, particularly those in lower-income sectors.  A critical disparity exists between housing needs and housing supply.” The report cites a growing affordability gap and limited availability of housing in locations with significant job growth, such as major cities and coastal regions.

7. Threats to the middle class. In 2007, the average middle-class income was $57,403. Now it hovers below inflation-adjusted levels from nearly two decades ago at $57,909. These income levels have yet to return to their pre-recession highs, and stagnant income growth will continue to press on the middle class.

8. Emerging role of healthcare in real estate. The nation spends more than $3 trillion each year on healthcare costs—about $10,000 per person—which is double the average for developed countries worldwide. “The real estate industry has emerged as a major player to cost-effectively improve people’s health,” the report notes. “Building occupants are increasingly demanding that the space they inhabit be designed, constructed, and operated in ways that advance positive health outcomes.” A growing focus on healthy buildings is emerging, as people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that healthcare contributes 20 percent to maintaining people’s health, while environmental and behavioral factors account for 40 percent.

9. Immigration. As the Trump administration seeks to enact more restrictive immigration laws, some housing leaders are growing concerned about labor shortages in homebuilding. Demographers note that immigrant groups are a source of household formation. “New immigrants tend to rent, boosting demand for multifamily housing, especially in gateway cities,” according to the report. “Recent surveys suggest that immigrant populations aspire to own homes and to move relatively freely from cities to suburbs and back in the search for employment. Labor mobility and homeownership rates will be constrained by limiting immigration.”

10. Climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report this year that shows sea level rises are expected to more than double from 2013 forecasts—to between 6.6 and 8.6 feet by 2100. “While a potential rise of sea level may seem far in the future, NOAA also estimates that annual frequencies of disruptive and damaging flooding would increase 25-fold with only a 14-inch increase in local sea level rise,” according to the report. “Major cities such as Miami, New York, New Orleans, Tampa, and Boston are projected to have the most costly problems, with South Florida and most coastal areas all exposed to differing levels of sea rise risk and cost. The implications of potential sea level rise and related flooding on real estate values is positioned to explode due to dramatic increases in the volume and accessibility of information on the consequences of sea rise.”


Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker

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New Jersey employment slumps by more than 13,000 jobs

New Jersey employment slumps by more than 13,000 jobs

Reposted from NJ.Biz

New Jersey lost more than 13,000 jobs in May, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said this week. However, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, below the national rate of 4.3 percent.

The preliminary figures from employers found that total employment in the Garden State fell by 13,100, to a seasonally adjusted level of just over 4.1 million. The contraction was entirely in the private sector, which lost 14,000 jobs.

On the upside, April’s preliminary figure of 1,900 jobs gained was revised upward, to a total of 2,900 positions added.

The state added 48,100 private-sector jobs from May 2016 to May 2017, the department said.

In May, only two sectors added jobs: Manufacturing grew by 500 positions, while construction grew by 100. Among the sectors that lost jobs: Professional and business services declined by 9,000 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities fell by 2,400; financial activities dropped by 1,400; education and health services lost 800 positions; information lost 500; and leisure and hospitality lost 400.

The public sector added 900 jobs for the month.

 


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