Friday Facts and Figures: July 26, 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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American workers lose out on billions of dollars every year due to wage theft. This takes shape in many ways, from making employees work “off the clock,” to not paying overtime, to paying less than the minimum wage. On average, victims of wage theft have $1,150 stolen from them, according to the federal Department of Labor. Fortunately, there is a bill sitting on Governor Murphy’s desk that would establish some of the strongest wage theft enforcement measures in the nation. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Quijano, A2903 would increase penalties for wage violators, provide liquidated damages worth 200 percent of unpaid wages, and provide remedies for workers who are retaliated against. As the Assemblywoman notes in this op-ed, “No one should be withheld one penny of the wages to which they are rightfully owed.” [ / Annette Quijano]


It will soon be illegal for employers to ask job applicants for their salary history, thanks to a new law signed by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver (Governor Murphy is out of state). This should promote pay equity, as asking employees what they previously made has been shown to perpetuate wage discrimination against women and minorities. In New Jersey, women still make $0.82 for every dollar their male counterpart makes; this gender pay gap exists regardless of industry, job title, or education level. The new law will take effect in six months and comes with a $1,000 fine for first offenders, a $5,000 fine for second offenders, and a $10,000 fine for each subsequent violation. [ / Samantha Marcus]

23.7 Percent

Federal tax policy is inextricably connected to race, and changes in the tax code can either widen or narrow racial inequities. According to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Trump tax cuts of 2017 further widened the gap between the disproportionately white households in top income brackets and everyone else. In fact, white households in the top 1 percent received 23.7 percent of the tax cut benefits, which is more than everyone in bottom 60 percent of households received combined (13.8 percent). The report also outlines changes to the federal tax code that would advance racial equity, such as progressive taxation and bolstering tax credits, like the EITC, that benefit working families. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Chye-Ching Huang and Roderick Taylor]

3.1 Million

Speaking of proposals that would widen inequality, the Trump administration wants to end food assistance for 3.1 million people, including approximately 250,000 New Jersey residents. Of those harmed by this proposal, a majority are working families with children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. The measure would restrict food assistance eligibility, punishing New Jersey families with modest savings and discouraging low-paid workers from earning additional income. This runs counter to the goals of SNAP, the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program, which has been shown to improve health outcomes and lift families out of poverty. [Bloomberg / Mike Dorning]

$12.9 Billion

Governor Murphy and Cuomo signed bi-state legislation to enact the Gateway Development Corporation, which will spare commuters on NJ Transit from a fare surcharge. Instead, New Jersey will fund its share of the $12.9 billion Gateway Program through the Transportation Trust Fund, which was reauthorized in 2016 with no caps on borrowing. The newly established corporation will act on behalf of both states and be tasked with applying for grants and loans, as well as approving contracts to design and build the railway expansion. [ / Larry Higgs]


Some big news out of NJPP: Marcia Marley has been elected as the new Chair of the NJPP Board of Trustees! Marcia joined the NJPP board in 2013 and brings a breadth of experience in organizing and economic research to her new role. NJPP founder Jon Shure has been elected Vice-Chair of the Board. Welcome and congratulations, Marcia and Jon! [NJPP]

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