Friday Facts and Figures: July 19, 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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1.3 Million

In a big win for the Fight for $15 movement, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this will directly boost the wages of 27 million workers and lift 1.3 million out of poverty. All twelve members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation voted for the proposal. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since July 2009, which represents the longest period in the minimum wage’s history without an increase. New Jersey is currently on the path to a $15 minimum wage by 2024, for most workers, thanks to legislation signed by Governor Murphy earlier this year. [The New York Times / Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jeanna Smialek]


3.5 Percent

New Jersey’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest since the state began tracking job records in 1976. The state’s unemployment rate is below the national rate of 3.7 percent and comes after a strong year of job growth, as the state added 47,600 jobs from June 2018 to June 2019. [NJ.com / Brent Johnson]


70,849

Over the last two years, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has fallen by more than 1.7 million participants, including 70,849 New Jersey residents. New Jersey’s enrollment decrease of 3.9 percent is much greater than the state’s 0.5 percent decrease in unemployment, meaning the drop cannot be explained by an improving economy alone. Health policy experts fear that the Trump administration’s punitive immigration policies and hateful rhetoric are discouraging immigrants and those living in mixed-status households from applying for Medicaid. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Matt Broaddus]


$3.8 Billion

Once a model for the nation, NJ Transit is now better known for its regular delays and cancellations due to years of underfunding and cuts in state aid. The beleaguered transit agency will look to turn that around in fiscal year 2020 with $3.8 billion in spending, including a $2.4 billion operating budget and another $1.4 billion for capital projects. Thanks to a $75 million boost in state aid in this year’s budget, NJ Transit will be able to: train and hire more engineers, assistant conductors, and mechanics; purchase new buses and electric-power rail cars; and invest in rail infrastructure improvements. [NJ.com / Larry Higgs]


$1 million

In 2018, New Jersey established the Civic Information Consortium (CIC) to bolster local news coverage across the state. The first-of-its-kind initiative was established to fund proposals by reporters to cover communities lacking a local news source. Unfortunately, the CIC went unfunded in last year’s budget, and this year its $1 million line item is in Governor Murphy’s budget lock box. Mike Rispoli of Free Press Action Fund says, “the Civic Information Consortium needs to be at the top of the list” as the Murphy administration determines what it wants to take out of the lock box as more revenue is collected. [NJ Spotlight / John Reitmeyer]


Save the Date!

Join NJPP, advocates, and lawmakers from across the state on September 19 in New Brunswick at Celebration of Progress 2019. This is NJPP’s annual cocktail reception, and there’s plenty to celebrate! From raising wages, to controlling the cost of health care, to standing up for immigrants, this has been a big year for progressive policy in the Garden State. Click the link to register! [NJPP / Celebration of Progress]


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