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: 14,469,233
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,883,026
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Roe v. Wade
Abortion rights are under attack — again — after the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, according to a draft court opinion that leaked Monday night. While New Jersey codified abortion rights earlier this year, rights alone are not enough, as financial barriers keep far too many patients from accessing this time-sensitive care. NJPP is joining Planned Parenthood and other advocates in calling on state lawmakers to enact measures cut from the Reproductive Freedom Act that would expand access to abortion to those who may not have the means to afford it. As Planned Parenthood’s Kaitlyn Wojtowicz told NJ Spotlight News, “Rights without access are meaningless.” [NJ Spotlight News / Lilo Stainton]
Higher education is meant to help students become financially secure and build wealth, but it’s actually doing the opposite, especially for students of color who take out student loans at higher rates than their white counterparts. That’s why canceling student loan debt, as President Biden promised to do on the campaign trail, is not only good economic policy but a necessary part of closing the racial wealth gap. “[Student loan debt] puts an anchor around the neck of Black and Hispanic students that are coming from backgrounds that generally have less wealth to begin with,” said NJPP’s Peter Chen. Read the article for a master class from Peter (no tuition or student debt required) on how student loan debt cancellation is an issue of racial justice. [NJ Spotlight News / Taylor Jung]
Speaking of racial justice, a new report by the Institute for Social Justice shows that, because homeownership is the biggest driver of wealth in New Jersey, homeownership inequity is a primary driver of the state’s racial wealth gap. Today, a mere 38 percent of Black households in New Jersey own their homes, compared to a whopping 76 percent of white households. To advance equity and promote Black homeownership, the report recommends state lawmakers create a first-generation homebuyers’ program, provide greater down-payment assistance, help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and much more. Read the full report by clicking the link. [New Jersey Institute for Social Justice / Nichole Nelson]
Are rising prices from inflation good or bad? Seems like a simple question, but it really depends on who you ask. According to executives of the nation’s largest publicly traded corporations, inflation is great for business. Why? Because corporations can use inflation as an excuse to raise prices and exploit consumers. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe the head of research for Barclay’s: “The longer inflation lasts and the more widespread it is, the more air cover it gives companies to raise prices.” The CEO of Hostess made a similar point on a recent earnings call, saying, “When all prices go up, it helps.” Bookmark this for the next time someone tells you it’s supply shortages or workers’ wages that are driving price increases. [The New York Times / Lindsay Owens]
On May Day, NJPP Research Director Nicole Rodriguez released new data outlining the growing CEO-to-worker pay gap in New Jersey. With nearly four in ten workers across the state struggling to make ends meet, the CEOs at New Jersey’s largest corporations are making nearly 500 times more than their average employee. If this sounds messed up, it’s because it is. And, as Nicole highlights, this level of pay inequity is not normal, but a recent phenomenon. [NJPP / Nicole Rodriguez]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Gertie, Nicole’s brother’s pup! Gertie started out as a foster dog, but her foster parents fell in love with her and decided to keep her. She loves to annoy her big brother, Iggy Pup, hog all of the dog beds, and eat poop — but her family loves her anyway. Woof!
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