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NJ's most vulnerable zip codes

New Jersey ranks as the nation’s 11th most healthy state in America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation and yet, CHART’s data illuminates some dramatic disparities that exist within its communities.1 A resident of New Vernon’s 07976 zip code can expect to live 22 years longer than someone who lives in Trenton’s 08608. In Millington (zip code 07946), 99.3 percent of residents have the security of health insurance. Twenty-five miles away in Newark’s 07105, just six in ten residents have any kind of health insurance coverage.

This study analyzes 20 factors including health measures such as chronic conditions, lack of prenatal care and premature death, along with social measures such as high school graduation rates, employment status and food access. The CHART team developed a scorecard to aggregate the findings and then indexed the results across New Jersey’s 537 zip codes to show the state’s most vulnerable communities from a health status perspective. The analysis revealed that the top 10 most vulnerable zip codes are located in Camden, Trenton, Newark, Paterson and Atlantic City. However, communities large and small, urban or rural, are shown to be more vulnerable to poor health even when a single social determinant is stressed.

A review of the 38 lowest scoring zip codes (ranked 500 to 537) found negative commonality across many metrics. When focusing on these communities with the lowest overall scores, the following common trends emerged:

  • Nearly one in five individuals lacked health insurance
  • 28 percent of households receive food support through SNAP benefits
  • The median household income was less than $39,000
  • 14 percent of individuals were classified as disabled
  • Nearly four in ten individuals were on Medicaid
  • Individuals managing two or more chronic conditions were significantly more prevalent
  • 25 percent of individuals lacked a high school diploma
  • Nearly three in ten births were to a teen mother
  • More than 14 percent of individuals were unemployed
  • Individuals managing mental health or substance use disorders were nearly two and a half times more prevalent than the statewide median
  • Nearly one in ten babies born were low birth weight
  • 13 percent of households were located in food desert with limited access to healthy food
  • Life expectancy was 4.7 years shorter compared to the statewide median
  • More than 15 percent of households had limited English proficiency
  • Premature deaths (prior to age 65) were more prevalent.
  1. State Findings: New Jersey, 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from