Those of us who live in New Jersey, know that we are overburdened. High costs, taxes, population density, poor infrastructure, the list can go on and on.

It’s enough to make you crazy, or just miserable. But still, somehow, I’ve always thought of us as survivors. We’re a tough, scrappy group of people who can make the best of anything, right?

And so, I would think that meant we could make ourselves happy no matter what. But it turns out, according to a new poll, some of us are very miserable in this state.

In fact, one city in this state ranks #4 out of the entire country for being the most miserable city. I was shocked when I heard this because this town has so much going for it but the city is Passaic.

Google Earth
Google Earth

But when you think about it, it’s really not that surprising. Business Insider conducted a poll that identified the 50 most miserable cities in the US, using Census data from 1,000 cities.

They looked at the percentage of people working, median household incomes, the percentage of people without healthcare, median commute times, and the number of people living in poverty.

Passaic has 70,000 residents — 58% of people working, and a third are living in poverty.

Often, these cities have been devastated by natural disasters. They've had to deal with blight and with high crime rates. Economies have struggled after the industry collapsed.

Tornado In Stormy Landscape - Climate Change And Natural Disaster Concept
RomoloTavani GettyImages

Many of these cities, Passaic included, also tend to have high rates of addiction.

In 2020, according to, Passaic had the most overall intakes for drug and alcohol rehabilitation than any other city in Passaic County, except for Patterson.

The primary substances were:

Cocaine/ Crack
Primary Drug
Other Opiates
Marijuana/ Hashish
And Other Drugs

In fact, New Jersey had nine miserable cities on the list, but we’re not doing as poorly as the state with the most miserable cities.

That was California, with 10 miserable states in the top 50. (We were second with nine, and Florida came in number three with six.)

Here are NJ’s  “Les Miserables 9” and their rank on the list of most miserable cities.

#30 — Plainfield
#29 — West New York
#19 — Paterson
#17 — Trenton
#15 — Union City
#11 — New Brunswick
#8 — Camden
#5 — Newark
#4 — Passaic

These cities have things in common — few opportunities, devastation from natural disasters, high crime and addiction rates, and often many abandoned houses.

It’s a shame because Passaic has so much potential, but like a lot of other underserved cities in the state, it has never quite been able to realize it.

New Jersey's smallest towns by population

New Jersey's least populated municipalities, according to the 2020 Census. This list excludes Pine Valley, which would have been the third-smallest with 21 residents but voted to merge into Pine Hill at the start of 2022.

Gallery Credit: Michael Symons

New Jersey's best tourist town for all 4 seasons

Lambertville was just named best winter destination in New Jersey. I wholeheartedly disagree. It is the best destination at ANY time of year.

Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

You can now listen to Dennis & Judi — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite best friends anytime, anywhere and any day of the week. Download the Dennis & Judi show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

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