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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In 2017, average wages for the top 1.0 percent of earners in the US reached the highest level ever: $719,000. This represents a 3.7 percent increase from the year before, far outpacing annual wage growth for the bottom 90 percent of earners (up only 1.0 percent). For the top 0.1 percent, wages reached $2,757,000 in 2017, the second highest level ever. [Economic Policy Institute / Lawrence Mishel and Julia Wolfe]
In 45 states, the tax code actually worsens income inequality, as those who earn the least pay the highest share of their income in state and local taxes. The five states with the least equitable tax systems are: Washington, Texas, Florida, South Dakota, and Nevada. New Jersey’s tax code ranks as one of the most equitable, but it is still far from progressive and has room to improve. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy / Meg Wiehe et al.]
New Jersey’s middle class families, or those earning between $45,300 and $74,800 a year, pay a higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes (10.1 percent) than the state’s top 1.0 percent of earners (9.8 percent). Families earning between $74,000 and $132,200 pay the highest share of their income in state and local taxes at 10.7 percent. [NJ BIZ / Daniel Munoz]
New Jersey workers will no longer have to choose between going to work sick and foregoing a day’s pay, as the state’s earned sick day law takes effect on October 29. For every 30 hours worked, employees will earn an hour of sick time, for up to 40 hours a year. NJPP estimates that over 1.2 million New Jersey workers will gain the right to sick days under this new law. [NJ.com]
Over a thousand students – 1,365 – have applied for financial aid since New Jersey expanded access to undocumented students in May. Under the new law, undocumented students who graduated from New Jersey high schools are eligible for need-based financial aid, giving them a real shot at earning a college degree. This policy will help the state develop a more highly-educated workforce, strengthen the economy, and build a brighter future for all New Jerseyans. [NorthJersey.com / Monsy Alvarado]
Years of tax cuts for corporations and the state’s wealthiest residents caused NJ Transit’s rapid fall, writes NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson in an op-ed for NJ.com. Under the Christie administration, the state subsidy for NJ Transit was slashed by 90 percent to help pay for billions of dollars worth of tax cuts and incentives for the wealthy and well-connected. Many of these tax cuts remain on the books, helping starve the transit agency of critical funding. [NJ.com / Sheila Reynertson]
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