By Emily Kelley
The middle class is not at all what it used to be for New Jersey citizens, according to Philip D. Murphy, a Democratic politician who many think will run for governor. By studying the negative change, Murphy developed a plan to start a revival called “New Start New Jersey.”
From students and faculty, to alumni and guests, the Mercer Room was filled to capacity on Nov. 13 when Murphy spoke at an event presented by the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey politics about his findings and experiences with the declining middle class.
“A majority of [New Jersey citizens] already believe that their generation’s quality of life is worse than that of their parents,” said Murphy. “And they expect the trend to continue.”
“New Start New Jersey” was launched on Nov. 10, and is a program built off the determination to reverse New Jersey’s economic decline. Murphy explained that three out of every four people in New Jersey identify with the middle class. However, half of that population finds it much harder to make ends meet now than they did a year ago.
In a poll constructed by “New Start New Jersey,” citizens were asked to identify what it would look like for them to live a middle-class life. The results were as expected: to have a secure job, a secure retirement, and no need to worry about the cost of essential items. However, these comforts are being swept out from underneath these citizens more and more each day. One of Murphy’s aspirations is to see this trend reverse course.
One of the biggest financial crises that a middle-class family has to face today is sending a child to college, said Murphy. He addressed this issue with a strong belief that community college should be free to all students, as it is in Oregon.
“I think it’s great that he considers education in New Jersey so important that he wants to follow Oregon in making it free,” said undeclared freshman Kenneth Dillon. “For us students, it is especially important since he is a potential bid for [New Jersey] governor.”
While a college education is considered a middle-class luxury, it is becoming harder for working class families to afford it. Murphy, being raised in a middle-class family, understands the hardships and encourages current students to “seize this opportunity” and discover the benefits that a higher education has to offer.
“I really liked how he rose from the middle class and all of the struggles he went through,” said Nina Catrambone, a freshman international business and marketing major.
By Emily Kelley