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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We finally know why Amazon set up a public bidding war between hundreds of North American cities for its second headquarters. Was it free publicity? Nope. To collect data on the applicants? No. Because the company really needed subsidies to expand? Definitely not. According to a new report by Bloomberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos held the infamous HQ2 contest because he was jealous of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla. Specifically, Bezos was envious of the $1.3 billion in subsidies Tesla received to open a battery plant in Nevada. If you don’t already support an interstate corporate subsidy ceasefire, this article should change your mind. [Bloomberg / Spencer Soper, Matt Day, and Henry Goldman]
In a new op-ed, fast-food manager Andrea Rodriguez details how she often works over 40 hours a week without overtime pay. Because federal overtime protections were never indexed to inflation, “workers like me can be made to work unlimited hours – essentially for free,” Andrea writes. In the 1970s, 63 percent of salaried workers were entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay. Today, only 15 percent of salaried workers are covered. As Andrea points out, New Jersey can fix this by guaranteeing overtime protections to workers who make up to 2.5 times the minimum wage. This would restore the overtime threshold to its historical standard and boost the take home pay of thousands of workers across the state. [NJ.com / Andrea Rodriguez]
Increases in New Jersey’s minimum wage may help a popular public pool open on time later this summer. Graydon Pool, a swimming pond in Ridgewood, is considering limited hours or a delayed opening due to a lack of lifeguards. New Jersey’s new minimum wage, currently $11 an hour, could help lure new workers and keep the pool open. As NJPP has previously reported, raising the minimum wage benefits workers and their employers alike as higher pay makes it easier to attract and retain employees. [NorthJersey.com / Alexis Shanes]
No Strings Attached
Newark is poised to launch a universal basic income (UBI) pilot program later this year, where residents will receive a set amount of cash with no strings attached. A similar pilot is already underway in Stockton, California, where preliminary findings indicate participants were spending the new income on household necessities like food and utilities. “It’s a novel idea, but I don’t think people take it seriously,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “That’s why it’s important for us to do these pilots, and show people the seriousness of this.” [Politico / Katherine Landergan]
During the last week of January, 115 New Jersey residents were detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), representing one of the largest ICE sweeps in the state under the Trump administration. Johanna Calle, director of the Alliance for Immigrant Justice, criticized the arrests as an attack on immigrant communities, stating that “ICE is spreading misinformation, fueling anti-immigrant stereotypes, and failing to show how deporting individuals without a fair trial is helping New Jersey.” [NorthJersey.com / Anthony Zurita and Monsy Alvarado]
Olugbenga Ajilore will be the keynote speaker at NJPP’s annual policy conference, Progress 2020! Gbgenga, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, epitomizes the theme of this year’s conference, Policy for the People, and is a leading voice on closing the racial wealth gap. You can get to know Gbenga and purchase your tickets for Progress 2020 with this link. [NJPP / Brandon McKoy]
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