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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COVID-19 Cases: 211,148 | Deaths: 14,373
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Public schools have reopened across the state, but not all students are having the same back-to-school experience. As of September 13, sightly more than half (52 percent) of New Jersey students are in districts with fully remote programs; roughly one-third (32 percent) are in districts offering hybrid programs; eight percent of students are in “combination” districts, which offer different reopening plans within the district; and two percent are in districts with fully in-person instruction. Due to ongoing problems with segregation and underfunding, the state’s reopening plans are unequally available to students of different races and ethnicities. For example, white students are more likely to be enrolled in a district that offers at least some in-person instruction, while Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be enrolled in a district that is fully remote. As NJPP Special Analyst for Education Policy Mark Weber writes here, this is “yet another example of how inadequate and inequitable funding is creating different systems of schooling for different students.” [NJPP / Mark Weber]
Public Question No. 3
This November, New Jersey voters will get to decide whether redistricting — the process by which state legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years after a new census is complete — should be delayed if census results come in late. If approved, Public Question No. 3 would create a new deadline, February 15, for New Jersey to receive census results; if the results arrive after the deadline, the state would delay redistricting and instead use the old district lines for another two years. Good government watchdogs like the League of Women Voters, along with racial and social justice advocacy groups, oppose the amendment, saying it would leave the growing number of Black, Latinx, and Asian voters without adequate representation for two more years. “Communities of color are asked to wait two years in order to have the representation due to them,” said Henal Patel, director of the democracy and justice program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. [Asbury Park Press / Stacey Barchenger]
New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that we may be years away from a full economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession. BLS reported an increase of 661,000 jobs in September, representing a significant slow down after the nation added 8.1 million jobs in the preceding three months. In total, the U.S. economy is still down 10.7 million jobs from February. The report also found a big uptick in long-term unemployment, with 7.3 million workers unemployed for at least 15 weeks and 2.4 million who are unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. According to Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute, “The recovery has been more successful for white workers than Black, Hispanic, or Asian workers. While all groups saw improvement in September, the unemployment rate for Black and Hispanic workers remains significantly higher than for white workers.” [Economic Policy Institute / Elise Gould]
State and local lawmakers award more than $95 billion in “economic development” tax credits per year, despite little evidence that they succeed at creating new jobs or growing local economies. To put this number in perspective, $95 billion could fund the annual state budgets of 11 states combined, or all of the federal government’s food assistance programs. Every dollar spent in corporate tax subsidies is a dollar that doesn’t go toward essential public programs and services that communities rely on. “However you figure it, taking that much money out of state and local budgets and handing it to crony capitalists imposes a massive cost on taxpayers and crowds out spending on basic government services such as roads, schools, and public safety, especially in lower-income communities,” writes John Mozena. [The American Conservative / John Mozena]
It’s hard to believe the state budget was signed less than two weeks ago. For those of you who need a refresher, the NJPP team put together this budget breakdown, highlighting some of the biggest changes to the tax code and the state’s spending priorities. [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson, Brittany Holom, Vineeta Kapahi, et al.]
Pets of NJPP
Meow! Meet Maisy, NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson’s co-working cat. There’s really no need for a writeup here, just enjoy the adorable photo.
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