Friday Facts and Figures

Friday Facts and Figures: August 20, 2021

This week marks the 25th anniversary of welfare "reform." President Biden enacts the largest-ever increase in food assistance benefits.

Published on Aug 20, 2021 in General

Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond​.
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Vaccine Doses: 10,842,254
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,453,696
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]


Calling all map nerds! In his first-ever report for NJPP, Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen breaks down the latest Census figures — and what they mean for redistricting — with interactive maps at the county, congressional district, and state legislative district levels. All in all, New Jersey is growing, both in numbers and diversity, but that growth is not uniform across the state. Click the link to see where New Jersey is growing fastest and which districts will need to add and shed population. [NJPP / Peter Chen]

5 Percent

This week marks the 25th anniversary of welfare “reform,” which replaced the nation’s largest cash assistance program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The new program came with new restrictions — namely onerous work requirements and a five year limit on receiving benefits — resulting in lower cash assistance levels and fewer families receiving help. And under TANF, states are not required to use the federal funds for cash assistance; in New Jersey, for example, only 5 percent of TANF funds went towards cash assistance to families living in poverty. [The Philadelphia Inquirer / Alfred Lubrano]

27 Percent

The Biden administration will boost food assistance benefits by 27 percent starting October 1, representing the biggest-ever increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This policy change will benefit 42 million people who currently receive SNAP, or approximately one out of eight residents across the nation. Before the pandemic, the average monthly SNAP benefit was $121; that will increase by $36 thanks to this change. [CBS News / Aimee Picchi]

$252 Million

Unemployment insurance benefits were a lifeline to millions of New Jersey workers who lost income during the pandemic — but the surge in jobless claims has depleted the state’s unemployment trust fund. Now, business and industry groups are calling on the state to use federal pandemic relief funds to replenish the fund, starting with $252 million this year, instead of paying for it through a small increase in the employer-paid unemployment insurance tax. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson told New Jersey Monitor, federal pandemic relief funds would be better spent helping individuals and families harmed by the pandemic. [New Jersey Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]

Safe Haven

New Jersey could be a safe haven for abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court — but only if state lawmakers pass the Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA). The bill, which would not only codify Roe in state law but also expand access to abortion care, has languished in the state legislature without a vote despite broad public support. Click the link for a thorough breakdown on what the RFA would do and why it’s needed. [Rewire News / Nina Henry]


NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy joined New Jersey Citizen Action for a virtual panel discussion on TANF, its racist history, and how New Jersey’s cash assistance program fails to reach all families in deep poverty as a result. [New Jersey Citizen Action / Facebook Live]

Pets of NJPP

We have two pets this week! Say hello to Bear (left) and Lucky (right), co-working pups of New Jersey Citizen Action’s Dena Mottola Jaborska. Bear and Lucky love to play fight and snuggle with one another. They also enjoy hanging out in Stacey Park in Trenton with the other neighborhood dogs. Woof!


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