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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Positive COVID-19 Cases: 54,588 | Deaths: 1,932
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
On Monday, Senator Teresa Ruiz will join NJPP and the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey to unveil new legislation to reduce child poverty by improving the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Children (TANF) program. The announcement, which will be streamed on Facebook Live, coincides with the release of a new NJPP report, Promoting Equal Opportunities for Children Living in Poverty. The report finds that far fewer families living in poverty receive cash assistance today than when TANF was established in 1996, and that the state’s TANF benefit levels are too low to lift families out of poverty. Watch the livestream on Monday at 12:00pm on NJPP’s Facebook page, linked here. [Facebook / New Jersey Policy Perspective]
Another 215,000 New Jersey residents filed for unemployment last week, according to new data from the state Department of Labor. This is the third week in a row of record-breaking unemployment claims. In total, more than 576,000 New Jersey workers — more than 13 percent of the state’s workforce — have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. To quote NJPP President Brandon McKoy, “Our policy response must match the enormity of the moment. So far, it hasn’t. We have a lot of catching up to do if we want any chance of staving off the worst.” [NJ.com / Samantha Marcus]
Skyrocketing unemployment will result in hundreds of thousands of New Jersey workers losing not only their job, but their health coverage as well. That’s because 70 percent of workers in New Jersey get their health insurance through their employer. Last week, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimated that more than 147,000 New Jerseyans with employer-based insurance lost their jobs due to COVID-19. That number is now much higher, as the EPI estimate does not account for the 215,000 workers who filed unemployment claims last week. Fortunately, these residents have options to maintain coverage, namely through the ACA marketplace or continuing their existing health insurance policy through COBRA. [NJ Spotlight / Jon Hurdle]
The COVID-19 pandemic is stretching state and local governments thin, as revenue from sales, income, and corporate business taxes have plummeted due to necessary social distancing measures. Because states and localities are required by law to balance their budgets, significant revenue shortfalls could result in drastic cuts to public programs and services that families rely on. To avoid these cuts and the harm they would cause families and the broader economy, the federal government must act quickly to provide state and local governments with more aid. According to a new analysis by EPI, approximately $500 billion more in federal aid will be needed by the end of 2021 to help state and local governments with revenue shortfalls. [Economic Policy Institute / Josh Bivens and Naomi Walker]
A new bill, sponsored by Senate President Sweeney and Senators Stack and Corrado, would provide $100 million in rental assistance to tenants across the state. The proposed legislation would establish a temporary emergency rental assistance program for low- and middle-income families who have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The rental assistance would be paid for by a combination of uncommitted and unspent Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds and federal aid provided to the state for COVID-19 recovery efforts. The bill is up for a vote in the Senate on Monday. [ROI-NJ / Tom Bergeron]
The New Jersey State Senate will hold its first ever virtual voting session this upcoming Monday. On the docket: a package of bills to respond to COVID-19, including proposals to expand TANF benefits, assist inmates released from incarceration in obtaining reentry benefits, increase support for laid off workers eligible for unemployment benefits, and much more. [Insider NJ]
Pets of NJPP
This is Mercury, Sheila’s co-working cat! Mercury is a scrappy street kitty who was adopted by the Reynertson family last winter. The rescue’s initial plan was to neuter Mercury and let him back out on the streets, but staff were enamored by his stellar personality and decided to put him up for adoption. He now enjoys long naps on the couch and makes frequent appearances in NJPP’s #petsofnjpp Slack channel. Meow!
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