Programming Note: Friday Facts and Figures will not publish next week, but we’ll be back in your inbox on November 6. Remember to submit your ballot by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3!
Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
Sign up here.
COVID-19 Cases: 225,430 | Deaths: 14,484
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Be careful out there — New Jersey could be facing a second wave of COVID-19, as new cases have doubled in the past month and are now averaging more than 1,000 per day. According to Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist at Montclair State University, “We’re heading into that sort of high risk for community spread designation. We don’t have this contained anymore.” Health officials have signaled that this is a statewide issue, with private indoor gatherings likely contributing to the uptick in cases. On a separate note, Governor Murphy is self-quarantining after two members of his senior staff tested positive for COVID-19. On behalf of NJPP, we wish the staff of the governor’s office well and hope everyone stays healthy. [Karen Yi / Gothamist]
Last week, an additional 1.1 million workers across the country applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. This marks the 31st week in a row where new UI claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. This should serve as a stark reminder that the economy, workers, and families alike are still struggling. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue to hold up new COVID relief measures, including an extension of the $600 increase in UI benefits from the CARES Act, which expired at the end of July. As Heidi Shierholz from the Economic Policy Institute states here, “Blocking more stimulus is not just cruel, it’s terrible economics,” as this relief was spent immediately and locally, supporting millions of jobs. [Economic Policy Institute / Heidi Shierholz]
Yes to Everything
New Jersey’s housing market is booming, as residents from New York City are seeking more space to work from home. The state’s luxury real estate market in particular is busier than ever, according to Michele Kolsky-Assatly of Coldwell Banker Realty in Bergen County, even with the newly enacted millionaires’ tax. “The uptick of taxes on millionaires, I can’t see it hurting us, really, because the people that are buying are wealthy people,” Kolsky-Assatly said. “I don’t know that that will take precedence over lifestyle.” When asked whether home buyers are coming from New York City, Hoboken, or other areas, Gene Amsel of the Greater Bergen Realtors replied, “Yes to everything.” And while these quotes are merely anecdotes, the real estate data backs it up, as the volume of contracts on homes priced above $1 million are up 40 percent from last year, while homes priced above $2.5 million are up 67 percent over last year. [The Real Deal / Akiko Matsuda]
Earlier this week, the NJ Transit Board of Directors passed a new budget which avoids fare hikes, despite COVID-19 decimating the transit agency’s ridership and revenue collections. Fares were originally expected to cover $993.7 million of the 2021 operating budget, but due to COVID-19, those projections have been revised down to a mere $374 million. NJ Transit was able to balance its budget without fare hikes thanks to $991 million in federal aid through the CARES Act. The budget is also supported by $386 million in state aid, $129 million from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and $82 million in federal clean energy funds. According to NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett, keeping fares stable was a big priority given the number of essential workers who rely on local bus service. [NJ.com / Larry Higgs]
A new study by Dana Peterson, a former global economist at Citigroup, Inc., puts a price tag on the cost of racial bias in the United States. According to Peterson, who resides in northern New Jersey, closing racial gaps would have generated an additional $16 trillion in economic output since 2000. The study points to racial disparities in housing, education, pay, policing, voting, access to credit, and much more. By closing the numerous gaps between Black residents and their white counterparts, the U.S. could gain an additional $5 trillion in economic activity over the next five years. “At all these different levels of society and achievement, there are these roadblocks,” Peterson said. “It’s pyramidal.” [Bloomberg / Saijel Kishan]
NJPP Policy Analyst Vineeta Kapahi moderated a roundtable discussion yesterday on the state of immigrant women in New Jersey during the COVID-19 crisis, and ways state and federal lawmakers can ensure no one is left behind in the nation’s pandemic recovery. The panel discussion features Dr. Yana Rodgers and Dr. Andrea Hetling of Rutgers University, and Alejandra Sorto of the ACLU of New Jersey. [Facebook Live / NJPP and Make the Road NJ]
Have a fact or figure for us? Tweet it to @NJPolicy.