Friday Facts and Figures: August 9, 2019

Friday Facts and Figures is a brief digital newsletter focusing on data points from NJPP reports, research, and policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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51,000

Approximately two-thirds of Camden residents — 51,000 — live in parts of the city without easy access to supermarkets. That was supposed to change in 2013, as two developers each planned to build a new full-service grocery store in the city. Fast-forward a few months and only one of the projects was eligible for a state tax credit, thanks to a special provision in the 2013 Economic Opportunity Act. Among pages of last minute amendments to the bill, one paragraph qualified one of the Camden proposals — a 75,000-square-foot ShopRite — for a large tax credit while totally disqualifying the other supermarket. The amendment was drafted, in part, by the lawyer/lobby firm Parker McCay, which later represented the developers behind the ShotRite proposal. This provision further calls into question who is intended to benefit from the state’s corporate subsidy programs: ordinary people or powerful special interests? And to make matters worse, neither of the proposed supermarkets were ever built. [Politico NJ / Katherine Landergan and Ryan Hutchins]


680

Earlier this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 680 people during raids on several food processing plants in Mississippi. This is believed to be the largest workplace immigration raid in the US in at least a decade. Immigrant rights advocates fear the raid was retaliatory, as workers are often targeted after their facilities are accused of or investigated for worker abuse. The company that owns the raided poultry plant, Koch Foods Inc., recently settled a class action lawsuit for $3.75 million after supervisors harassed and discriminated against Latina workers. Raids, or the mere threat of one, are often used to silence workers from coming forward to report abuse, enabling employers to violate labor standards without penalty. [Payday Report / Mike Elk]


3.9 Percent

Wages and salaries are on the rise, according to new federal data. After years of stagnation, wages in the New Jersey region are up 3.9 percent over the last year, driven in large part by a rising wage floor. This increase is significantly higher than the national rate of 3 percent, and is twice the rate of inflation; it is also the steepest increase since the US Department of Labor began tracking regional wage growth in 2006. This announcement is evidence that New Jersey’s $15 minimum wage law is having its intended effect. As of July 1, the state minimum wage for most workers is $10.00 an hour. This rate will increase to $15.00 an hour by 2024. [Asbury Park Press / Michael Diamond]


88 Percent

Bad news for the future of local journalism: GateHouse Media has announced plans to acquire Gannett. The merged company would become the largest newspaper chain in the nation, and would result in fifteen of New Jersey’s seventeen daily newspapers — a whopping 88 percent — being owned by just two corporations (GateHouse / Gannett and Advance Publications). Mergers of this nature often result in layoffs, as costs of production are cut to maximize profits and pay off debts. As David Wildstein explains in this local news primer, New Jersey once had 23 daily newspapers, all with larger staffs than today’s papers currently have. Further, none of New Jersey’s seventeen daily papers are independently owned. [New Jersey Globe / David Wildstein]


$2 Million

New Jersey has a plan to invest more than $2 million in outreach and enrollment assistance for health care plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace. If approved by the federal government, the state would take over all advertising and navigation services for the 2020 enrollment year. The $2 million investment would be more than double what the state spent last year, and should benefit thousands of New Jersey residents. Enrollees will still sign up for health care using the federal website — www.healthcare.gov — as the state prepares to have its own exchange and website ready for 2021. NJPP’s Ray Castro said the outreach plan will “make it easier to establish the full state exchange in 2021,” as the Department of Banking and Insurance will collect a year’s worth of data from the federal system before the state launches its own platform. [NJ Spotlight / Lilo Stainton]


ICYMI

NJPP’s 2019 Kathy Crotty Fellow, Vineeta Kapahi, took over the @NJPolicy Twitter account to share some of her research on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and provide a behind the scenes look at the NJPP office. Check out this insightful thread to learn about how the EITC lifts workers out of poverty, where it falls short, and what New Jersey can do to expand it. Thank you, Vineeta, for all of your hard work this summer — it’s been a true pleasure working with you! Vineeta’s full report will come out within the next month or two, so keep an eye out for it. [Twitter / @NJPolicy]


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