New Jersey gets a lot of unwarranted flak. It’s possible that much of this is due to the fact we are so close to New York City and get lost in its shadow. And that recent “meme” study branded New Jersey “the worst state to live in.” But to be honest, Jersey’s bad reputation is kind of a mystery. While everyone loves a good mystery, let’s flip the script and look at more tangible things that New Jersey does best.
1. New Jersey is the smartest state.
That’s right. With colleges like Princeton and Stevens Institute of Technology, it isn’t shocking to learn that New Jersey residents are well-educated. Schooling is important, but it isn’t the only way to power your brain. Because as many would agree, not all learning is done in the classroom. Even though New Jersey’s schools are rated highly—second in the country—we are far too stubborn to let that hinder us from having the most brainpower.
Massachusetts may be ranked by U.S. News as the number one state for education, but that is what makes it all the more impressive that New Jersey is still considered the “smartest” state. Why? According to studies also performed by U.S. News, statistics tell us that brainpower is one of the things New Jersey does best. The Garden State’s high school graduation rate is a staggering 91 percent of students. When it comes to higher education, 24.2 percent of New Jersey adults have bachelor’s degrees, and 14.7 percent hold advanced degrees. (How do you like them apples Massachusetts?)
2. We have the best drivers.
Say what you want, but New Jersey drivers have turned navigating the Turnpike into an art form. To the untrained eye, we are probably seen as aggressive drivers, and I get it. But I’d like to see someone from Pennsylvania have the stones to zip across four lanes on the Parkway in one calculated merge (AKA the Jersey Slide).
Some may view this as dangerous, but we know what we’re doing, and we rarely miss an exit. Growing up in New Jersey prepares young drivers for all of the lunatics out there. This trial by fire style training surprisingly makes New Jersey the third safest state to drive in. Yes, Minnesota may be a rank ahead. But couple our highways with our ranking, and we own the roads.
3. New Jerseyans are the most pandemic adaptive.
Say what you want about the Garden State, but we take it on the chin. Over 40 percent of New Jersey’s working parents have remote jobs according to recent occupational data.
4. We are pioneers in the world of sports.
Hoboken hosted the very first baseball game, and the first intercollegiate football game was played 30 miles away in New Brunswick. The game between Princeton (College of New Jersey at the time) and Rutgers wasn’t the same clash of physical specimens that we know today, it was more like hyper-violent soccer. But hey, it was still more than the average out-of-state Joe could handle.
5. We’re leaders in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
Sure, our property taxes may be a little high, but that’s because New Jersey is actually the second wealthiest state in the country. Providing opportunities for employment is one of the more important things New Jersey does best. With close proximity to New York City, people tend to prefer planting roots in New Jersey’s family-friendly suburbs as opposed to NYC.
According to BioNj.org, New Jersey is the world leader in the biotechnical and pharmaceutical industries and has over 5,000 information and tech companies. In economic terms, NJ is the eighth-best state for job opportunities, which definitely isn’t too shabby. Even with New Jersey’s population density and developed infrastructure from these industries, our wondrous state yields the fifth-best urban air and water quality in the country.
6. New Jersey knows malls.
If the outdoors isn’t your thing and you prefer climate-controlled shopping extravaganzas, you’re in luck. New Jersey has the world’s most malls located within one area. Specifically, our very own North Jersey has seven major malls within a 25 square mile radius—including American Dream, the second-largest mall in the country. Visitors from around the nation come to enjoy the recreation our state offers—making New Jersey a growing tourist attraction.
According to the New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism, the state broke its previous record for tourists last year. In 2019, New Jersey had more than 116 million out-of-staters come to experience the things we do best. That’s almost a five percent increase from the previous year! The increase in tourism resulted in almost 10,000 new jobs and over 46 billion dollars in tourism revenue (what will that look like post-COVID?).
7. We have the best bagels, breakfast meats, pizza makers and diners.
Working hard and playing harder fosters a healthy appetite. Good thing eating is one of the things we excel at. NJ has some of the best bagels you can find. Breakfast isn’t all we do. You haven’t had real pizza until you’ve had New Jersey pizza. A study recently named four Garden State pizza makers among the top 50 influential “pizza people” in 2020. A 2019 New York Times article “Is New York’s Best Pizza in New Jersey?” featuring Jersey City’s Razza was enough to heat up this debate.
If you don’t know what you want to eat, play it safe and visit a diner. New Jersey is the diner capital of the world. We have approximately 525 diners in our state, and yes, all of them serve disco fries. Apparently, french fries covered in cheese and gravy is just a New Jersey thing, and that is honestly just outrageous to me.