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: 8,755,436
Fully Vaccinated People: 4,278,312
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
A new study out of the University of Michigan finds that federal stimulus checks were a big success at reducing hardship and keeping families out of poverty during the pandemic. According to the analysis of Census Bureau surveys, reports of food insecurity fell 42 percent thanks to the stimulus checks. Among all households, reports of anxiety and depression fell more than 20 percent. This study validates that government has an important role to play in helping families recover from economic downturns — and that direct cash assistance works! [The New York Times / Jason DeParle]
There is one big caveat to the effectiveness of stimulus checks: not all residents qualified for them. In New Jersey, more than 460,000 undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most forms of economic relief. Fortunately, Governor Murphy announced in May the creation of a $40 million relief fund for excluded workers, but advocates for immigrants’ rights are quick to point out that this plan would only help 10 percent of undocumented residents. Immigrant, faith, and labor groups are now calling on lawmakers to approve an additional round of stimulus checks to ensure no one is left behind in the state’s pandemic recovery. [NJ.com / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
More news on direct cash assistance: A new poll by Data for Progress finds that New Jersey voters support a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This policy, which would provide monthly checks to all residents regardless of their employment status, gained traction during the 2020 presidential election. Now, pilot UBI programs are underway in cities across the nation, including New Jersey’s own Paterson and Newark. This poll shows that Garden State voters see the value of bold policies that help families make ends meet and stay out of poverty. [Data For Progress / Brian Burton]
During the pandemic, the number of families receiving food assistance in New Jersey grew by 23 percent. This expansion was supported, in part, by federal expansions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The only issue is that these changes, including higher benefit levels and a simpler application process, were only temporary. A new report by Hunger Free New Jersey makes a strong case for making these expansions permanent at both the federal and state levels. “We need to take this opportunity to strengthen this critical program,” said Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey. [Hunger Free New Jersey]
New data from the Internal Revenue Service shows that capping state and local tax deductions (SALT) did *not* lead to an exodus of high-income residents from states like New York and New Jersey (read: this is more evidence that tax flight is a myth). This is the latest example of why lawmakers, the press, and the public alike should only site reputable data instead of private surveys (looking at you, United Van Lines) and right-wing talking points. This sentence from the article sums it up nicely so I’ll just leave it here: “The statistics reinforce existing research that shows high-earning Americans are relatively resistant to leaving the markets where they first became successful.” [Bloomberg / Jonathan Levin]
Calling all transit, land use, planning, and development nerds! The 2021 Planning and Redevelopment Conference, hosted by New Jersey Future and APA New Jersey, is less than a week away! Join planners, community activists, and elected officials on June 10 and 11 as we reimagine planning and land use in a rapidly changing and post-pandemic environment. [NJ Future and APA New Jersey / Planning and Redevelopment Conference 2021]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Sunny and Betty, co-working pups of Barry Kushnir and Anne Sciaino! Sunny and Betty are nervous little rescue pups who really like to nap and snack on treats. They (allegedly) love their human dad more than their human mom because Barry feeds them human food even though he acts like he doesn’t. Woof!
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