New Jersey's older workers should be worried about the years ahead. A new scorecard shows New Jersey plummeting in the state-by-state rankings of "retirement readiness."

The report from the National Institute on Retirement Security focused on three key dimensions when analyzing the financial preparedness of those approaching retirement: potential income based on retirement plan participation, costs related to health care and housing, and labor market conditions for older adults.

elderly couple

New Jersey posted one of the biggest declines in scores from 2000 to 2012.

Nari Rhee, NIRS research manager, said New Jersey dropped from the top half of the rankings to the lower third.

"The rate of workplace retirement plan participation fell from 54 percent in 2000 in the private workplace, to 46 percent in 2012," Rhee said. "That represents a bigger drop compared to what happened in other states."

New Jersey also saw slower growth in average 401(k) balances during that time, while experiencing a much faster growth in the unemployment rate among older adults.

"New Jersey is also behind on the cost side of things; it's an expensive state," Rhee said. "It ranks dead last right now among the states in terms of the share of older households over age 65 who pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses."

Rhee said New Jersey received some good grades in the report for factors such as average earnings and Medicaid generosity.

The purpose of the report is not to inform people on where to retire, Rhee said, but to tell state policymakers what they need to focus on in order to improve the financial security prospects of their aging workforce.

"I think most Americans are really struggling right now with the fact that they do not have enough, and they will not have enough to even meet basic expenses," Rhee said.

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