A Portrait of Newark




A Portrait of Newark paints a picture of well-being and access to opportunity, and the state of youth disconnection in Newark today. The Portrait is an extensive study of well-being and youth disconnection across race, place, and gender throughout Newark’s five wards. The report found that stark variation exists by place and by demographic group—resulting in significant inequalities across Newark.

This report uses the American Human Development Index (HDI) to present how Newark residents are doing on three key dimensions of well-being—a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Broken down by race and ethnicity, by gender, and by ward and census tract, the index shows how communities across Newark are faring relative to one another and to the state and country as a whole. 

The HDI is expressed on a scale from zero to ten, with ten indicating higher levels of well-being across health, education, and standard of living. Newark as a whole scores 4.10, falling significantly below the score for Essex County, 5.67, and New Jersey as a whole, 6.35. Of the racial and ethnic groups for whom it is possible to calculate an HDI score, Black residents have the lowest HDI score (3.59), and Asians have the highest (6.90), followed by whites (5.70), and Latinos (4.19). In terms of distribution by tract, Tract 16 in the West Ward has the lowest HDI score (1.42) compared to Tract 73 in the East Ward which is the highest-scoring census tract (5.56). In the North Ward, no tract scores below 3.36. Both the South and West Wards have tracts that score below 2.00, evidence of well-being challenges.

The report also provides an in-depth look at youth disconnection in Newark. Disconnected youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. Here in the United States, organizations that work with this population also use the term “opportunity youth.”

The youth disconnection rate in Newark in 2022 is 18.4 percent, or 7,500 young people. This is 7.5 percentage points higher than the national rate (10.9 percent) and nearly double the rate in New Jersey as a whole (9.4 percent).




  • Life expectancy at birth in Newark (77.0 years) is 1.6 years shorter than life expectancy in Essex County and 2.6 years shorter than life expectancy in New Jersey as a whole. Newark women outlive their male counterparts by 7.4 years, on average—larger than the gender gap at the national level, about six years.
  • Black residents of Newark have a life expectancy of 71.9 years, about five years less than the Newark average and nearly eight years less than the state average. The life expectancy for Black women is 75.9 years and for Black men, a shockingly low 67.4 years.



  • The share of Newark adults ages 25 and older who lack a high school diploma (22.1 percent) is more than double the state rate (9.4 percent). State residents are two and one-half times as likely to hold a four-year bachelor’s degree as Newark residents and three times as likely to hold a graduate degree.
  • Newark’s Latino residents have the lowest overall levels of educational attainment with more than one in three adults ages 25 and older lacking a high school diploma. Latina women are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than Latino men (12.7 percent versus 9.3 percent) – yet they earn significantly less.



  • Roughly one in four Newark residents live in poverty, more than double the national rate.
  • The typical Newark resident earns $33,300 per year, $10,400 less than the Essex County median of $43,700 and $18,200 less than the New Jersey median of $51,500. Among gender and racial and ethnic groups, Latina women earn the least ($23,100), less than half of what the top-earning group, white men, earn ($50,600).
  • The median household income for a Newark commuter is more than $91,000, nearly three times higher than the median household income of a Newark resident. Essex County is home to the largest Black-white and Latino-white gaps in median household income among the state’s 21 counties.



  • The rate of teens and young adults who are out of school and out of work in Newark is 18.4 percent, much higher than both the national and state rates.
  • Black youth make up 43.2 percent of the total youth population in Newark and 54.9 percent of the opportunity youth population. Boys and young men are more likely to be disconnected than girls and young women (18.8 percent versus 16.3 percent), still, Newark’s girls and young women have an unusually high disconnection rate.
  • Poverty impacts disconnection significantly: 28.5 percent of impoverished youth are disconnected, versus 14.1 percent of those not in poverty.
  • In Newark, young adults who live in housing with broadband have slightly lower rates of disconnection from work and school, 14.3 percent, while those with no internet at home (3,000 youth) have double the rate of disconnection, 28.6 percent.
  • The disconnection rate among mothers ages 16–24, 34.8 percent, is much higher than that of young women without children, 15.0 percent. Among the most striking findings of this report is how pervasive poverty is among the city’s young mothers—alarmingly, half of young mothers in Newark live in poverty.

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October 8, 2019 — Gothamist