With its concentration of wealthy bedroom communities near New York and Philadelphia, New Jersey is the richest state in the country, according to Census Bureau data recently released. The median, or midpoint, of household income in the nation was $44,684 last year, while in New Jersey it was $61,359. Connecticut was No. 2, at $60,528. National per capita income the average income earned per person was $24,020 nationally, but $30,485 in New Jersey. While the percentage of people living in poverty in 2004 was 13 percent across the nation, in New Jersey it was 8.5 percent. With its proximity to the New York and Philadelphia, the Garden State has some of the nation's wealthiest communities. Annual incomes, particularly just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, are typically among the nation's highest. One area where New Jersey's statistics do mirror the nation is the number of people lacking health insurance. Nationally that figure in 2004 was 15.7 percent; in New Jersey it was 15.3. Some observers were alarmed at the increase almost 8 percentage points in four years in the number of New Jerseyans paying more than 35 percent of their income in rent. Nearly 40 percent of Garden Staters who rent housing fall into that category. Paul Chrystie, director of the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment, said rent that takes up more than 30 percent of income is considered unaffordable ``The need is going up, just as the state is backtracking on the amount of affordable housing it provides,'' Chrystie said.