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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COVID-19 Cases: 712,585 | Deaths: 21,094
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
This week marks the one-year anniversary of New Jersey’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, the pandemic has tragically claimed the lives of more than 21,000 New Jersey residents, with the total number of confirmed cases fast approaching 10 percent of the state’s total population. This article by NJ Spotlight includes an interactive timeline of significant stories and milestones from the past year. [NJ Spotlight News / Colleen O’Dea]
The nation’s pandemic recovery is stalling due to a lack of consistent federal relief, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report, which measures how the pandemic has impacted the nation’s economy over the last year, finds that the CARES Act helped keep the economy afloat in 2020, but only temporarily. Job growth came to a halt in the fall, and the nation remains 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. This job loss has disproportionately harmed low-paid workers, Black and Latinx workers, workers without a Bachelor’s degree, and immigrant workers. The findings of this report underscore the need to properly fund a pandemic recovery that leaves no one behind. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Chad Stone and Matt Saenz]
Just as the nation’s pandemic recovery has stalled due to a lack of sufficient relief, New Jersey’s recovery could face a similar fate if immigrant residents remain ineligible for state and federal aid. New Jersey has one of the largest shares of immigrants in the nation; leaving these residents behind is not only cruel and unfair (immigrants pay more than $600 million in state taxes every year) but also a drag on the overall economy. “If other states can do this, so can we, and so should we, because if we don’t, our recovery will be tremendously weaker, it will be slower, and we can’t afford that,” said NJPP President Brandon McKoy at a press briefing organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation earlier this week. [NJ 101.5 / Patrick Lavery]
Governor Murphy has extended a state moratorium on utility shutoffs through June 30. The ban on shutoffs covers electric, gas, and water utilities and, for residents with school-aged children, internet access. According to the state Division of Rate Counsel, overdue utility bills have surpassed $700 million, with more than 1.2 million electric, gas, and water customers in arrears. If these stats do not convince you that more federal relief is necessary, I’m not sure what will. [NorthJersey.com / David Willis]
Care about the state budget? Well, here’s your chance to tell the Legislature what you would like to see included in next year’s appropriations bill. The budget committees in the Senate and Assembly have scheduled four public hearings (all virtual) for residents to testify in support of their budget priorities. Click the link for more info on this year’s budget process, along with information on how to sign up to testify. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
Make the Road New Jersey unveiled a new policy platform packed with recommendations to fully recover from the pandemic and advance racial equity. Proposals include using wage boards to raise the pay of essential workers and those left behind from the $15 minimum wage, providing pandemic relief to immigrant workers, transferring funding from school resource officers to student support services, and much more. [Make the Road New Jersey]
Pets of NJPP
The pets are back! Meet Slinky, Levi Rodman’s pet snake — the first snake ever to be featured in Friday Facts and Figures! Slinky likes to eat one frozen mouse a week, is really good at finding hiding spots, and enjoys hanging out near warm lamps. Slinky will turn one year old later this month, so please join us in wishing Slinky a very happy birthday!
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