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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Income and employment are steadily rising, according to new Census data, but far too many New Jersey families struggle to afford basic necessities. In 2017, 10.0 percent of New Jersey families lived below the federal poverty level, or an annual income of $24,600 for a family of four. More New Jerseyans live in poverty now than in 2007, prior to the recession, when the poverty rate was 8.6 percent. [NJPP / Brandon McKoy]
Given New Jersey’s high cost a living, it is more accurate to measure poverty by those living below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. By this metric – about $61,500 for a family of four – more than 2.6 million New Jerseyans live in poverty and have trouble making ends meet. This is nearly a third of New Jersey’s population and includes more than half a million children. [NJ Spotlight / Colleen O’Dea]
The new Census figures also show that federal economic security programs kept millions of Americans out of poverty in 2017. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) alone lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty. The President’s proposed 2019 budget would cut funding for SNAP by about 30 percent. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Arloc Sherman]
The midterm elections could determine the fate of health insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions. In New Jersey, there are more than 3.8 million people – including 477,000 children – currently living with preexisting conditions. Without the protections of the Affordable Care Act, these children and adults could be denied the health care they need to be healthy. [Families USA / Cheryl Fish-Parcham et al.]
New Jersey is on pace to become the next state to legalize recreational marijuana, but don’t bank on the tax revenue to balance the state’s budget. Draft legislation would cap the tax rate at 10 percent, which would be the lowest in the nation. NJPP previously reported that recreational marijuana could bring in $305 million per year in tax revenue, but that analysis assumed a 25% tax rate. [Politico / Sam Sutton]
Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly endorsed driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Expanding access to driver’s licenses would make New Jersey’s roads safer as it would ensure drivers are tested, trained, and insured. NJPP estimates that there are 466,000 driving-aged undocumented immigrants in New Jersey who would benefit from this proposal. [NorthJersey.com / Nicholas Pugliese]
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