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Poverty & Well-Being


This report focuses on areas of financial hardship, food security, and mental and physical health in the Jewish community in New York. It finds that poverty has declined from previous highs, yet remains widespread in the community, and that struggles with depression and anxiety, while below the levels measured in UJA’s 2021 Covid Impact Study, are still material and are found disproportionately among specific populations.


Section 1: Poverty and Financial Well-Being

Income (Households)

 2023 Jewish HHs2022 General Population1
Under $50,00022%32%
$50,000 to under $100,00026%24%
$100,000 to under $150,00016%16%
$150,000 or more36%29%

The Jewish community in the eight-county area is substantially wealthier than the general population in the same area. More than one in three (36%) Jewish households reported household incomes of $150,000 or more, compared with 29% of households in the eight-county area overall. The Jewish community is also substantially less poor than the general population in the same area. In the eight county area in 2023, 22% of Jewish households reported a total household income of less than $50,000, compared with 32% of all households.

Different from the share of the wealthy and the poor, the share of middle earners in the Jewish community mirrors the share of the middle earners in the general population. About 42% of Jewish households earned between $50,000 and $150,000, a similar percentage to total households in the area. 

The Federal Poverty Level

In this study, the level of income associated with poverty is based on the minimum needs of a household as a function of household size, with minimum needs defined by the federal poverty guidelines for 2022. However, there is widespread recognition that the federal poverty guidelines underestimate poverty in high-cost-of-living areas like New York City because they do not sufficiently account for differences in regional living costs. 

Therefore, this study uses a more expansive definition of poverty and considers a household whose annual income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guideline to be a poor household. This poverty level is hardly generous. For example, 150% of the federal poverty guideline translates to a household income of $41,000 for a family of four in New York. 

For more on the federal poverty guidelines, including tables of the income guidelines by household size, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website here.

Poverty Among Jewish Households

Poor (Under 150% FPL)13%12%
Near Poor (150% to under 250% FPL)10%8%
Not Poor77%80%
Poor and Near Poor Jewish Households and People
Jewish Households147,000
% of Jewish Households20%
People in Jewish Households428,000
% of People in Jewish Households24%

In 2023, one in five Jewish households is poor (12%) or near poor (8%). Both poor and near-poor households struggle to make ends meet, but households that are “near poor” have a unique challenge: they live just above the poverty line and are often not eligible for government benefits and services. Poor and near-poor Jewish households tend to be larger than non-poor households, and as a result, the percentage of people in poor households is higher than the percentage of Jewish households that are poor. This means that while one in five Jewish households are poor or near poor, nearly a quarter of the total people in Jewish households in New York are poor or near poor. 

Fewer Jewish households in the area live in or near poverty in 2023 than in 2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted economic life throughout the country. In 2021, 23% of Jewish households, or about one in four households, were poor (13%) or near poor (10%). Poverty, both within the Jewish community and in the general population, has declined over the past two years as the country has rebounded from the pandemic.


Poverty Among Children and Adults (Jewish Households)
 % Poor# Poor% Near Poor# Near Poor% Poor & Near PoorPoor & Near Poor

More than a third of children in Jewish households (36%) live in or near poverty.2 The concentration of poverty among children is not unique to Jewish households; poverty among children is higher than adult poverty across New York State and has been for decades.3 However, childhood poverty in Jewish households is distinct from the general population because of its concentration among Orthodox households. Among the children in poor and near-poor Jewish households, 81% live in Haredi households.


Poor and Near-Poor by County (Households)
Staten Island22%
Total Eight-County Area20%

Poverty is not distributed evenly across the eight-county area, but rather is concentrated in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau, the three suburban counties, have the lowest rates of poor and near-poor households in the eight-county area. At the neighborhood level, the five areas with the highest poverty rates are all in Brooklyn (Borough Park, Williamsburg, Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Sheepshead Bay, Crown Heights, and Gravesend), followed by Washington Heights in Manhattan.


A Portrait of Jewish Poverty in New York

Poverty remains concentrated in a handful of particular groups in the New York area, each with its own challenges and needs.

The Haredi community represents one of the poorest groups within the larger New York Jewish community. Nearly thirty percent (29%) of the poor and near-poor Jewish households are Haredi households. Haredi households are, on average, larger than the non-Orthodox, with an average household size of 4.7 people among Haredi households compared with 2.4 for non-Haredi households. As a result, Haredi adults and children constitute a higher share of all people who are poor and near poor: 53% of people in poor or near-poor Jewish households are Haredi.

Denomination of Poor and Near-Poor Jewish Households
Other Orthodox6%
Denomination of Poor and Near-Poor Jewish People
Other Orthodox5%
Percent of Households by Denomination That Are Poor and Near-Poor
 HarediOther OrthodoxNon-Orthodox
Near Poor18%5%6%
Poor or Near Poor53%18%15%

The Haredi community also has the highest incidence of poverty of any subgroup in the New York area. Fifty-three percent of all Haredi households are poor or near poor. Although the rates of poverty are high, adults in poor or near-poor Haredi households are employed at high rates, even if they have the lowest levels of secular education among any group in the Jewish community. About 80% of adults in poor and near-poor Haredi households are employed, compared with just 30% of adults in poor and near-poor non-Orthodox Jewish households. Nearly all Haredi households are located in a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights, three of the poorest neighborhoods in the community.

The second largest group of poor households in the New York area is Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) households with seniors (over 65).4 While RSJ households that do not include seniors are not disproportionately represented among those in or near poverty, Russian-speaking senior households (both immigrant and nonimmigrant) make up 10% of poor and near-poor households, more than double their rate among the New York Jewish population. The incidence of poverty among RSJ senior households is also significantly higher than among the general population, with 47% of these households living in or near poverty. Financial precarity is particularly acute among Russian-speaking seniors who live alone, of which nearly seven in ten (69%) are poor or near poor. 

Percent of Poor and Near-Poor Jewish Households That Are RSJ Senior Households
Russian-Speaking Jewish Households10%
Percent of RSJ Senior Households That Are Poor and Near-Poor
 Russian-Speaking Jewish Households
Near Poor11%
Poor or Near Poor47%

Relatively high rates of poverty among Russian-speaking Jews may be, in part, a function of their particular immigration history. Russian-speaking seniors differ from other immigrants of similar ages in that they are more recently arrived, are more likely to have come to the U.S. at older ages, and less likely to speak English regularly, all of which could affect their ability to qualify for and access government benefits. The majority of Russian-speaking senior households are located in Brooklyn, in the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Kings Bay, and Madison. 

A number of other groups have a high incidence of in-group poverty, even if they do not make up a large share of the overall poor or near-poor households in the community. Of households that include a person with a disability, a quarter are poor. Additionally, nearly 42% of single-parent households are poor or near poor.


Financial Self-Assessment (Households)

Cannot Make Ends Meet4%3%
Just Managing24%23%
Have Enough Money34%35%
Have Extra Money23%24%
Well Off15%16%

In terms of subjective poverty, or an individual’s perception of their financial situation, the survey found that over a quarter of households cannot make ends meet (3%) or are just managing to make ends meet (23%). Even though the economy has recovered since the pandemic, people in Jewish households do not perceive their financial situations to have materially improved from 2021 to 2023.


Paying Bills (Households)

% HHs who did not have enough money to pay for…Last 3 YearsLast Year
Medical care or medicine12%8%
Rent or mortgage13%9%
A utility bill10%7%
One or more of above19%14%

Almost one in five Jewish households (19%) reported that they did not have enough money over the past three years to pay their medical, housing, or utility bills and nearly one in seven (14%) reported that they did not have enough money in the past year alone to pay at least one of these bills. The share of households who report not having enough money to pay bills in 2023 is similar to the share of struggling households measured in the 2021 Covid Impact Study (13%). 

Between the three categories of expenses, the greatest share of households had difficulty meeting housing costs, a number particularly pronounced among renter households, of which 15% and 19% did not have money to pay their rent in the last one and three years respectively. Nationally, the number of cost-burdened renters has recently reached an all-time high as rents have risen sharply along with inflation.5


Ability to Pay an Unexpected $400 Expense (Adults in Jewish Households)


Since 2013, the Federal Reserve has asked households across the country about their ability to pay an unexpected $400 expense, a question intended to measure the number of individuals who live in financial precarity. In 2023, one in ten adults in Jewish households in the eight-county area reported that they would be unable to pay for an unexpected $400 expense. This is lower than the 37% of adults nationally as of 2022 and 45% of New York City adults who struggle in the same situation when last measured in 2019.6


Home Ownership (Households)

Own home51%57%
Some other arrangementN/A2%

A little over half of adults in Jewish households (57%) own their own home, an increase from 2021 levels. The lack of homeownership is associated with greater financial hardship, as those who rent their homes are twice as likely to report that they are just managing or cannot make ends meet (36%) than those who own their homes (18%).


Receipt of Government Benefits (Households)

Subsidized health insurance28%
Food support10%
Subsidized daycare6%
Housing assistance3%
Unemployment benefits2%
Case management2%
Any of the sbove33%

One in three Jewish households receive some kind of government assistance in 2023. Jewish households most frequently receive subsidized health insurance (28%) followed by food support (10%). 


Employment (Adults in Jewish Households)

* In some cases, an adult reported multiple categories (e.g., student and employed). In those cases, the respondent was classified as employed.
None of These6%

Among all adults in Jewish households in 2023, 64% are employed and 2% are unemployed compared with 62% and 8% in 2021 respectively. An additional 2% are students, 3% are disabled, and 23% were retired. Six percent of adults in Jewish households in 2023 did not fall into any of the categories above and likely include those who are homemakers or volunteers.


Employment Rate (Adults in Jewish Households)

 2021 Adults in Jewish HHs2023 Adults in Jewish HHs2023 Adults in NYC 7

The percentage of adults who are employed is different from the employment rate, a measure that excludes adults not in the labor force. The labor force is composed of adults who are working and those who are not working but are actively looking for work and would be able to start a job if offered one. In 2023, 32% of adults in Jewish households were not in the labor force. This includes those who are retired, students, homemakers, and many disabled workers. 

Among those in the labor force in 2023, 95% were employed. Five percent were unemployed, down from 12% in 2021 and comparable to the unemployment rate of 5% for adults in New York City in 2023. The sharp decline in the unemployment rate follows the trend among the general population since 2021, when many Jewish New Yorkers, like many Americans more generally, lost their jobs or were furloughed during the pandemic.

One notable outlier in terms of workforce participation is the Haredi community, which has a labor force participation rate sixteen percentage points higher than the overall rate among adults in Jewish households. The Haredi population is younger than the overall Jewish population and has a greater share of adults in their working years, as well as higher levels of employment among those aged 65 and older. The Haredi unemployment rate mirrors that of the general population.

How We Measured Unemployment

The unemployment rate is a measure of jobless individuals who are seeking employment and would be able to start a job if offered one. In this study, we follow the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) definition of unemployment, calculated as the number of unemployed persons divided by all persons in the labor force.8 Individuals who are not working and not looking for work are not in the labor force and do not affect the unemployment rate.


Food Insecurity (Adults in Jewish Households)

Past Year, Ran Out of Food20212023
Sometimes or always11%6%

In 2023, 6% of adults in Jewish households in the eight-county area report that they had run out of food before they had money to buy more within the past year, down from 11% during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. Nationally, before the pandemic in 2020, 8% of Jewish adults said they had a difficult time paying for food within the past year, according to Pew’s study of Jewish Americans.9

Between 2020 and 2023, unprecedented government support was estimated to have kept millions of Americans from food insufficiency, even as demand for food support spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic.10 While rates of food insecurity declined a few percentage points since 2021, the study’s field period coincided with the end of these temporary benefits in March 2023, and these rates may rise in the absence of further government and philanthropic intervention.

Among those who report experiencing food insecurity in the past year, 49% report that they keep at least partially kosher. The study also found that food insecurity is largely concentrated in Brooklyn: 39% of households that ran out of food in the past year reside in Brooklyn. The next largest proportion (14%) of food insecure households are in Queens. About one in three food-insecure Jewish households contains children.


Spotlight on Survivors

* Percent of adults in Jewish households 75 and older
 % of Survivors% of 75+*
Under 150% FPL34%12%
Can’t or Just Making Ends Meet35%22%
Own Home36%65%
Food Insecure in Past Three Years21%8%

There are approximately 13,000 Holocaust survivors residing in Jewish households in the eight-county area. The demographics of this group differ from those of other adults of the same age. For example, 32% of Holocaust survivors live alone, compared with 23% of all adults who are 75 or older.

Notably, the material conditions of survivors’ households are worse than those of older adult households more generally. About one third of survivors live in households that are poor, compared with just 12% among those aged 75 or older. Thirty five percent of survivors live in households struggling to make ends meet compared with 22% of those aged 75 or more. Homeownership among survivors is nearly half that of the elderly population in Jewish households more generally. And, finally, one in five survivors experienced food insecurity in the past three years compared with 8% of those aged 75 or more.


Section 2: Mental Health and Well-Being

Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety (Adults in Jewish Households)

Anxiety or Depression21%18%

The mental health of New Yorkers was significantly affected by the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to 2021, a smaller share of adults in Jewish households today report symptoms of anxiety or depression than they did during the pandemic. The share of adults in Jewish households who have symptoms of depression and anxiety (18%) is also lower than the share among the general New York population, which averaged about 30% in New York State while this study was fielded.11 The following tables explore some of the specific areas with disparities in mental health conditions as identified by the 2021 Covid Impact study and other research studies.

How We Measured Mental Health

To assess mental health, this study uses the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) and the two-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-2) scale. These are short screening questions derived from longer anxiety and depression scales (PHQ-9 and GAD-7) that have been shown to be valid and highly predictive of mental health problems. The PHQ-2 and GAD-2 scales were modified to ask about symptoms over the last 7 days rather than 14 days to allow for comparison with UJA’s Covid Impact Study. The PHQ-2 screens for the degree to which an individual has experienced depressed mood and lack of pleasure. The GAD-2 screens for the degree to which an individual experiences an anxiety disorder. Neither the PHQ-2 nor the GAD-2 establishes medical diagnoses; rather, they are used as screens for depressive and anxiety disorders respectively.

Adapted PHQ-2 questions: 

Over the last 7 days, how often have you been bothered by …
…having little interest or pleasure in doing things?  
…feeling down, depressed, or hopeless? 

Adapted GAD-2 questions: 

Over the last 7 days, how often have you been bothered by the following problems …
...feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge?  
...not being able to stop or control worrying?

Creating a Mental Health Scale

For all four questions, the answers are assigned a numerical value: not at all = 0, several days = 1, more than half the days = 2, and nearly every day = 3. The two responses for each scale are added together. A sum equal to three or greater on the PHQ-2 is considered a positive screen for a depressive disorder. A sum equal to three or greater on the GAD-2 is considered a positive screen for an anxiety disorder.

Depression and/or Anxiety by Subjective Financial Status (Adults in Jewish Households)


Cannot Make Ends Meet49%
Just Managing23%
Have Enough Money17%
Has Extra Money14%
Depression and/or Anxiety by Employment Status (Adults in Jewish Households)

In 2023, the precarity of one’s financial situation is significantly associated with reported symptoms of depression and/or anxiety among adults in Jewish households, just as it was in 2021. Nearly half of all adults in Jewish households who reported that they could not make ends meet also reported experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. Additionally, adults in Jewish households who are unemployed report symptoms of depression and/or anxiety at more than twice the rate of those who are employed.


Depression and/or Anxiety by Social Network (Adults in Jewish Households)
No Social Ties60%54%
1–2 Social Ties42%34%
3–4 Social Ties25%18%
5–9 Social Ties20%19%
10 or More Social Ties12%12%

Having a social network of friends, family, and neighbors to depend on for help is positively associated with mental health now just as it was during the pandemic. In 2023, respondents with no social network to depend on for help report symptoms of depression or anxiety over four times more often than those with a large social network of 10 or more people.

Depression and/or Anxiety by Age (Adults in Jewish Households)

Consistent with findings during the pandemic, young adults report the highest rates of symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. This follows national trends in depression and anxiety which have consistently found that younger Americans more generally have widespread mental health concerns.12

Depression and/or Anxiety by Orthodox Status (Adults in Jewish Households)

Again consistent with the findings during the pandemic, non-Orthodox adults in Jewish households are significantly more likely to report symptoms of depression and/or anxiety than Orthodox respondents, with 19% of non-Orthodox respondents reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety compared with 13% of the Orthodox. Since 2021, symptoms of depression and/or anxiety have risen among the share of the Orthodox, while they have declined among the non-Orthodox population.

Depression and/or Anxiety by LGBTQ Status (Adults in Jewish Households)
LGBTQ Status20212023

Similar to 2021, adults in Jewish households who identify as LGBTQ report symptoms of depression and/or anxiety at higher levels than the non-LGBTQ population. About a third of LGBTQ adults report symptoms of depression or anxiety, compared with 18% of the non-LGBTQ population. However, symptoms of depression and anxiety have improved for the LGBTQ community since 2021, when nearly half of the community reported struggling with these symptoms. The overall lack of social support for this community, stigma, discrimination, and homophobia might all contribute to the persistent high rates of symptoms of depression and anxiety within the LGBTQ community.13

 Depression and/or Anxiety by Disability (Adults in Jewish Households)
Not Disabled15%

Disability is also tightly coupled with mental health among adults in Jewish households. Among those with a disability, 35% report symptoms of depression and/or anxiety compared to 15% of adults without a disability.

Access to Mental Health Care (Adults in Jewish Households)
Sought and Received Help50%42%
Sought but Did Not Receive Help7%
No but Planning to Seek Help50%15%
No and Not Planning to Seek Help36%

In 2023, help seeking behavior around mental health is largely unchanged from 2021 levels during the pandemic. About half of adults in Jewish households who reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression reported that they did not seek help. 

Mental Health Care Seeking Among Orthodox Adults in Jewish Households

While members of the Orthodox community report symptoms of anxiety and/or depression at lower rates than the non-Orthodox, Orthodox adults are also significantly less likely to report seeking help for their symptoms. In 2023, nearly two-thirds of Orthodox adults who reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression did not seek mental health care.

Jewish Households With Children Who Need Services
At Least One Child Needs Service29%
No Children Need Services71%

In 2023, 29% of Jewish households with children in them reported that at least one of their children had any kind of emotional, developmental, or behavioral problems for which treatment or counseling is needed. Among those who reported needing services, 35% report that not all of their children who need services are receiving them. 

All receive care66%
Some receive care22%
None receive care13%
Jewish Households with Children who Need Services by Financial Situation
 None/Some Receive CareAll Receive CareTotal
Cannot Make Ends Meet60%40%100%
Just Managing to Make Ends Meet46%54%100%
Have Enough Money35%65%100%
Have Some Extra Money20%80%100%
Well off32%68%100%

The financial situation of Jewish households with children who need treatment or counseling is related to their ability to receive those services. Households that cannot make ends meet are almost twice as likely to not receive all of the services they need compared to households that are well-off, and three times as likely compared to those who report having some extra money.


Covid Impact on Children’s Mental Health

(Among households with children ages 4–17)
Not at all29%
Not much26%
A lot9%

Many Jewish households also reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had detrimental effects on their children. Nearly half (45%) of households with children ages 4–17 reported that the pandemic had negatively affected the mental or emotional health of their child at least somewhat, while only 29% felt that the pandemic had not affected their children’s mental or emotional health at all.

Section 3: Adults and Children With Disabilities

* Percentages of adults and children in Jewish households, respectively.
 # of HHs% of HHs# of People% of People*
Adults with Disabilities161,00022%184,00013%
Children with Disabilities16,0009%18,0005%

In 2023, about 161,000 households (or 22% of Jewish households) in the eight-county area include at least one adult with a disability, defined as a chronic health issue, special need, or disability that limits work, school, or activities. Of these households, about half, or 78,000, are households with at least one adult over the age of 65. The percentage of adults with disabilities (13%) mirrors the disability rate for New York State measured by the Census Bureau, which tracks six specific types of disabilities as part of the annual American Community Survey.14


Type of Childhood Disability (Households)

(Among households with a child with a disability)
* Percentages do not add up to 100 as households may have multiple children with different disabilities or individual children could have multiple disabilities.
Learning Disability35%
Developmental or Intellectual Disability30%
Physical Disability11%

About 16,000 Jewish households include children with disabilities, which represents about 9% of households with children. Of the households with children with disabilities, 35% report that at least one child has a learning disability, 11% report that at least one child has a physical disability, and 30% report that at least one child has a developmental or intellectual disability. Additionally, 41% report that at least one child has a disability not captured among the previous disability types.


Disabilities and Financial Security (Households)

 Can’t or Just Making Ends Meet
Adults with Disabilities 
    One or More34%
Children with Disabilities 
    One or More36%

Disability is also correlated with financial hardship. Thirty-four percent of households with at least one adult with a disability could not or were just managing to make ends meet compared with 23% of households without adults with disabilities. Among households with children with disabilities, 36% reported they could not or were just managing to make ends meet compared with 29% of households with children without disabilities.

  1. United States Census Bureau, 2022 American Community Survey (ACS) One-Year Estimates for the eight-county area.
  2. Although the financial situation of many families with children improved significantly during the pandemic because of government interventions such as cash transfers and an expanded Child Tax Credit, these material effects would not be reflected in the official poverty rate, which is based on income before taxes and government benefits.
  3. “New Yorkers in Need: A Look at Poverty Trends in New York State for the Last Decade” (Office of Budget Policy and Analysis, Office of the New York State Comptroller, December 2022).
  4. Russian-speaking Jewish households are those in which someone in the household speaks Russian, or in which the respondent was born in the former Soviet Union or has a parent who was born in the former Soviet Union.
  5. “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2023” (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, June 21, 2023), www.jchs.harvard.edu.
  6. National number reported in “Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, May 2023). New York data from Chloe Cargill, Matthew Maury, and Christopher Wimer, “On the Precipice: An Analysis of the Vulnerability of New Yorkers to Financial Shocks” (Robin Hood, June 2019).
  7. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2023 Local Area Unemployment Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/lau/
  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “How the Government Measures Unemployment.” https://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#concepts.
  9. Pew Research Center, “Jewish Americans in 2020.”
  10. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, “The Impact of SNAP Emergency Allotments on SNAP Benefits and Food Insufficiency,” Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research Rapid Research Report (January 27, 2023).
  11. National Center for Health Statistics. U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, 2020–2023. Anxiety and Depression. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/mental-health.htm. The shares reported among the general population may not be directly comparable due to the Census Bureau’s use of the standard reference period, which measures symptoms over the past two weeks, rather than the past seven days.
  12. Chris Lee, “Latest Federal Data Show That Young People Are More Likely Than Older Adults to Be Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression,” KFF, March 20, 2023, https://www.kff.org/mental-health/press-release/latest-federal-data-show-that-young-people-are-more-likely-than-older-adults-to-be-experiencing-symptoms-of-anxiety-or-depression/
  13. Lunna Lopes et al., “KFF/CNN Mental Health In America Survey,” KFF, October 5, 2022, https://www.kff.org/report-section/kff-cnn-mental-health-in-america-survey-findings/
  14. U.S. Census Bureau. “Disability Characteristics.” American Community Survey, ACS 1-Year Estimates Subject Tables, Table S1810, 2022
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