Friday Facts and Figures: May 8, 2020

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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COVID-19 Cases: 133,635 | Deaths: 8,801
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]


71 Percent

New Jersey voters are more concerned with getting sick from the COVID-19 pandemic than they are with the economic fallout, according to a new poll by Quinnipiac University. When asked to choose between jump-starting the economy and maintaining social distancing measures, an overwhelming 71 percent of respondents support continuing to shelter in place. “There is a clear consensus that the state should be prioritizing slowing the spread of the coronavirus by keeping people home, even if it hurts the economy,” said Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy. [NJ Globe / David Wildstein]


1,018,785

The number of New Jersey workers who have filed for unemployment insurance (UI) since the pandemic hit has surpassed 1 million, according to new data from the state Department of Labor (DOL). To date, more than 640,000 New Jerseyans are receiving benefits. As NJPP reported last month, the state DOL is operating with a quarter fewer full-time staff than prior to the Great Recession, making it difficult for the department to keep up with the unprecedented number of UI claims. It’s worth pointing out that this tally of unemployment undercounts the full extent of job loss in the state, as undocumented workers do not qualify for benefits and thus are not filing claims, and many other workers have had difficulty completing their claims. [NJ.com / Dale Shoemaker]


20 Percent

New Jersey’s communities of color are currently the hardest hit by COVID-19. This is driven by racial inequities that existed prior to the pandemic as a result of decades of discriminatory policies that limited where New Jerseyans of color could live, work, go to school, and much more. While Black New Jerseyans make up approximately 13 percent of the state’s population, they account for nearly 20 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.  “This pandemic has really highlighted a disease that the U.S. has been battling since the country started, and that’s racism,” said Devin English, an assistant professor in the Rutgers University School of Public Health. [Asbury Park Press / Andrew Goudsward, Andrew Bogues, and Gustavo Contreras]


1,000

Senator Cory Booker and six members of the House — including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alyanna Pressley, and Barbara Lee — are calling on the states hardest hit by COVID-19 to release more people who are incarcerated to help curb the spread of the virus. This follows news from last week that New Jersey’s prisons have the highest COVID-19 death rate in the nation. Governor Murphy has already approved the potential release of more than 1,000 people who are incarcerated, specifically those who are at least 60 years old with pre-existing health conditions; so far, fewer than 100 have been released. Senator Booker is requesting that the state release those who are at least 50 years old, medically vulnerable, pregnant, juveniles, and individuals with less than 1 year left on their sentence. [NJ.com / Blake Nelson]


Half

The number of people completing teacher preparation programs in New Jersey has dropped by nearly half over the past decade, according to a new report by NJPP. This endangers the future of public education in the Garden State as school districts will have fewer candidates to fill teaching positions. “The solution in economic terms is to make the profession competitive,” said Mark Weber, report author and NJPP’s Special Analyst for Education. “If we want to have good schools, we have to have good teachers. And if we want to have good teachers, we have to make the career attractive.” [NJ.com / Amanda Hoover]


Act Now!

New Jersey must choose how it wants to respond to the economic fallout from COVID-19. We can repeat the mistakes of the past and try to cut our way out of the recession, or we can take a balanced approach that includes borrowing from the federal government and ensuring ultra-wealthy families pay their fair share. Click the link to send a message to your legislators! [For The Many NJ]


Pets of NJPP

Say hello to Lady Jane, Nicole Rodriguez’s family’s pup. Lady Jane has poofy hair and, as you can see below, enjoys chilling on the couch and looking out of the window. Don’t we all.


Have a fact or figure for us? Tweet it to @NJPolicy.