Friday Facts and Figures: October 25, 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 Billion

It’s finally happening! The American Dream Mall—which broke ground in 2004—is set to open today in the Meadowlands. State and local governments have committed more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds to prop up the mega-mall in the form of tax subsidies, abatements, and public transit upgrades. Specifically, the state Economic Development Authority approved up to $390 million in subsidies, the state’s Local Finance Board approved up to $800 million in tax incentives, and NJ Transit built a new rail link to the Meadowlands for $185 million. All of this for a mall in the middle of a swamp. [NJ.com / Kelly Heyboer]


842,000

Hundreds of thousands of salaried New Jersey workers do not have overtime protections and are at risk of being exploited by their employers. Why? The federal overtime threshold has eroded over the last forty years as it was rarely updated nor indexed to the cost of living. If New Jersey enacts its own overtime threshold at 2.5 times the minimum wage, 842,000 workers would benefit from stronger overtime protections, including 315,000 workers who would gain the right to time-and-a-half pay for the first time. Read all about it in Nicole Rodriguez’s first report for NJPP! [NJPP / Nicole Rodriguez]


-2.3 Percent

New Jersey is one of just nine states—and the only state in the northeast—where real tax revenue collections have yet to recover from the Great Recession. Due to a series of tax cuts under the previous administration, New Jersey brings in 2.3 percent less revenue now than it did at its peak over ten years ago. This is further proof the state has a revenue problem, not a spending problem. [The PEW Charitable Trusts / Barb Rosewicz, Justin Theal, and Joe Fleming]


45,000

Know someone looking for a job? The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for 45,000 temporary workers in New Jersey to conduct the 2020 census. Recruitment is in high gear as the bureau seeks to fill 65,000 positions in total. Pay varies by location, with the federal government offering as much as $22 per hour for help in getting an accurate count. Share far and wide! [NJTV News / Brenda Flanagan]


2 Percent

Customized job training has a return on investment that is ten times higher than conventional tax incentives, according to a new report by the Brookings Institute. However, job training represents a mere 2 percent of the country’s $50 billion in economic development subsidies. That is not a recipe for success. The report recommends that states emphasize skill development in economic development programs, namely through job training grants and partnerships with community colleges. [Brookings Institute / Joseph Parilla and Sifan Lu]


Required Reading:

A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that estate taxes are an effective tool for bringing in state revenue. While wealthy households may try to avoid paying the tax, history shows that estate taxes bring in more than enough revenue to make up for the few families that move. With wealth inequality at an all time high and New Jersey not bringing in enough revenue, state lawmakers should seriously consider bringing back the estate tax. [The New York Times / Eduardo Porter]


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