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October 16, 2017

The state’s regulated online casinos combined to generate $20.4 million in September, according to the New Jersey Monthly Internet Gross Revenue Report, released last week by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

That’s the seventh straight month revenue crossed the $20-million mark.

““Online gambling now accounts for some 10 percent of all casino revenue generated by Atlantic City casinos,” said Steve Ruddock, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com a promotional site for New Jersey’s gaming industry.

The September total is down slightly from the $21.3 million generated in August, but up 26 percent from $16.2 million in September 2016. Online casinos generated $657,799 per day during the 31 days in September, compared with $709,296 per day during the 30 days in August.

New Jersey’s online casinos have generated $183.7 million in gross revenue through September 31, putting the industry on pace to reach a quarter of a billion dollars in gross revenue for the year. That would shatter the $196.7 million that the industry generated in 2016.

October 13, 2017

New Jersey has one of the worst incarceration disparity rates for Latino youth in the country, according to The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheet. Latino youth in the Garden State are five times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated. This research comes just a few weeks after The Sentencing Project released a report showing that black youth in New Jersey are more than 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers — the worst disparity rate in the country.

October 12, 2017

Newark’s new Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing ordinance requires developers to set aside 20 percent of their residential units for affordable housing in projects that consist of 30 or more new or substantially rehabilitated units. It is part of Newark’s attempt to prevent the kind of gentrification that has driven longtime residents out of Hoboken and Brooklyn.   The ordinance mandates housing affordable to those in different income levels, ranging from 40 percent of the area’s median income to 80 percent. The marketing of the affordable units must give priority to Newark residents. The ordinance applies to all new residential development throughout the city, not just in designated areas. Further, affordable units must be spread throughout a building and not clustered together.

October 11, 2017

In 2016, there were over 2,100 drug-related deaths in New Jersey, mostly due to heroin. There have been two significant spikes in heroin deaths in the past few years, according to the “Report of The Governor’s Task Force on Drug Abuse Control.” The first came in 2015, when deaths jumped to 1,600 (they had been holding steady at about 1,200); the second spike was in 2016.

Fentanyl deaths also spiked during this period, climbing from 100 in 2014 to 400 in 2015 to more than 800 in 2016.

The Task Force, authorized when Gov. Chris Christie declared opioid addiction a public health crisis in February, made 40 recommendations involving education, prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery, and reentry.

October 10, 2017

About 62 percent of all violent deaths in New Jersey are due to suicide, according to an in-depth report. During the period covered by the report, 1999-2014, there were nearly twice the number of suicides than homicides. In 2014, there were 786 suicides in New Jersey. In 2015, the last year in which there is public data, there were 789 suicides.

The most common method of suicide is hanging/strangulation/suffocation (43 percent), followed by firearms (26 percent), and poisoning (17 percent.) Hanging and strangulation were the most common method for both males and females, although firearms were the method of choice for males older than 65.

Males accounted for 76 percent of suicide victims with 78 percent of all victims being white. A suicide note was left in 35 percent of cases.

The most common circumstances cited for suicides are mental health problems or history (48 percent). Education level and marital status seemed to have little impact on the rate of suicide. The only good news in the report is that New Jersey’s suicide rate is much lower (36 percent) than the national average.

October 6, 2017

Two new senators were sworn in yesterday in Trenton. Colin Bell (D-2), a former Atlantic County freeholder and prosecutor, succeeds Jim Whelan, who died in August. Kristin Corrado (R-40), takes over from Kevin O’Toole, who recently left the Senate to become chairman of the Port Authority. Corrado, an attorney, is the clerk of Passaic County. Both new legislators are running in November’s election.

October 5, 2017

The “tax reform framework” proposed by the Trump administration and Congressional Republican leaders would cost one in four New Jersey taxpayers an average $2,400 more a year in federal taxes, according to new analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. And it would give the Garden State’s wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers an average $74,000 tax break each year.

The ITEP report concludes that New Jersey will be one of the hardest hit states in the nation if the tax plan goes through. Under the plan, the state would have the second highest share (26.4 percent) of taxpayers facing a tax hike; Maryland would be hardest hit of all the states, with 30.5 percent of its taxpayers having to pay more, while North Dakota would suffer the least, with just 4.2 percent of its taxpayers on the hook for higher federal taxes. Nationally, 16.7 percent of taxpayers would see a tax increase.

New Jerseyans would be so hard-hit under the Trump-GOP plan because of its elimination of the state and local tax deduction, which disproportionately benefits high-service, high-tax states like the Garden State.

October 4, 2017

The most interesting news in yesterday’s Monmouth University Poll isn’t the sizable lead that Democrat Phil Murphy has put between himself and Republican Kim Guadagno, it’s the fact that both candidates have shockingly low name recognition. With just five weeks to go before Election Day, 44 percent of likely voters have no opinion about Murphy, with 45 percent holding no opinion about Guadagno.

“Low name recognition of New Jersey gubernatorial candidates this late in the game is not unprecedented because the state lacks its own media market. However, it is unusually low this year. The campaigns simply can’t break through with the political noise coming out of Washington,” commented Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Now about that sizable lead. The poll shows Murphy 14 points ahead of his rival, which gives Guadagno a lot of ground to cover by November.

“The double whammy of Trump and Christie has not helped the Republican brand in New Jersey. While Gaudagno’s current position as Christie’s number two is not a death blow to her chances, it certainly isn’t helping,” said Murray.

October 3, 2017

Since 2007, the NJCEED (the early detection and education program run by the New Jersey Department of Health) has provided more than 130,000 mammograms, resulting in diagnoses of more than 1,000 cases of breast cancer.

October 2, 2017

There are 538 police agencies spread out across the state — Camden, which relies on the county police accounts for one of them — according to the just released report “2015 Crime in the United States” from the FBI. That’s more than New York (418) and Connecticut (104), but just about half of Pennsylvania (1,056).

There are 30,272 male and female police officers serving in those 538 agencies, which works out to 1 for every 220 people, (or 4.5 per 1,000). All told, there are 39,376 police employees, counting clearks and other employees.

September 29, 2017

Millennials are 25 percent more prevalent in New Jersey towns and cities that meet smart growth metrics, according to a new report from New Jersey Future.

The report (“Where Are We Going?”) confirmed that millennials, which it defined as those born between 1980 and 2000, are gravitating to walkable, more urbanized locations with jobs, housing, entertainment, and amenities all within easy reach. It also found that, unlike the rest of the country, the millennial population is shrinking in New Jersey: While the number of millennials grew nationally by 6.8 percent, it declined in New Jersey by 2.4 percent between 2000 and 2013, the report contends.

The new demand for mixed-use, walkable downtowns is being driven largely by the preferences of the millennial generation, who are rejecting in large numbers the car-dependent suburbs of their parents' generation.

Hoboken has the highest concentration of millennials in the state – 45 percent. The proportion of 22- to 34-year olds in neighboring Jersey City was also high, about 28 percent.

The report also found that baby boomers, formerly the largest generation in America, live disproportionately in suburban communities that don’t score well on smart-growth metrics and where residents are dependent on their cars to get around.

September 28, 2017

Saving money is not something Americans are good at — and that’s at the best of times. So it should come as no surprise that some of New Jersey’s most troubled cities have little or nothing to show when it comes to savings, but the findings of a new report from MagnifyMoney.com are especially troubling: Camden ranks at the bottom of the list of worst savers among over 2,000 American cities. (Its actual ranking is 2,437.)

The company used IRS and U.S. Census data to run the numbers: Camden had the lowest activity among savers — only 4 percent of residents reported interest income and an average $8 a year in interest. Five other NJ towns rank among the bottom 10 poorest savers: Paterson, East Orange, Elizabeth Port, Irvington, and Orange.

September 27, 2017

Teaching is a tough job. Anyone who doubts it should spend a few weeks in a classroom, trying to bring the best out in young kids or teens. And in New Jersey, perennial problems with the pension system can add to the everyday stress and strain. So it’s good to have some good news to deliver for a change: New Jersey has been designated the second most-teacher-friendly state in the nation, according to a new study by WalletHub, the personal finances website.

The analysis compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 21 key indicators of teacher-friendliness, using a data set that ranged from teachers’ income growth potential to pupil-teacher ratio to teacher safety.

New Jersey’s total score was 66.43, just below first-ranked New York, which scored 68.2. The Garden State was ranked 18th for opportunity and competition and first for academic and work environment.

New Jersey took the second spot for the quality of its school system and finished third for pupil-teacher ratio. It took sixth place for three categories: average starting salary, public school spending per student, and teacher safety. Average annual salary was ranked 12th; income growth potential, 16th; 10-year change in salaries, 27th.

September 26, 2017

It’s been a challenging year for Rutgers University, according to President Robert Barchi, but a very good one in many respects. The school’s fundraising efforts have raised more than $200 million, a record amount, and President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to the graduating class of 2016.

As reported in Rutgers Today, the university's news service, Rutgers has granted more than 585,000 academic degrees since its founding, including those granted to the largest class in the university’s history in 2017.

This year, the university was listed among the top 25 public universities in the U.S. News and World Report and Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings. Military Times also ranked Rutgers No. 2 in the country among four-year colleges, while Rutgers University–Camden was named New Jersey’s first Purple Heart University for its services to veterans.

September 25, 2017

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction workers in New Jersey pull down $24.05 an hour, which works out to $50,030 a year — bearing in mind that many jobs in the construction industry are seasonal. Still, construction workers in the Garden State earn the fourth-highest pay in the nation, behind Illinois and Hawaii (both ($27.01 an hour) and Massachusetts ($25.84). Construction jobs in New York State pay $23.11; data was not available for Pennsylvania. Arkansas ($12.38) and North Carolina ($13.50) pay construction workers the lowest per-hour rate.

September 22, 2017

Some 31 percent of the 1,031 New Jersey Society of CPAs members who were surveyed in August and September said the state's next governor should make reducing property taxes the No. 1 priority. More than 70 percent of the respondents said reducing property taxes was a top-five priority.

The remaining top-five priorities in order were improving the state’s infrastructure; converting public pensions to 401(k)s; auditing state agencies and programs for overspending and waste; and combining municipalities or increasing the use of shared services.    

Other priorities for the next governor by order of importance included modifying the school-funding formula; increasing tax exemptions and incentives for retirees to keep them in the state; eliminating the inheritance tax or increasing the exemption amount; and evaluating corporate tax levels.

September 21, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to dump the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is particularly bad news for the roughly 22,000 young New Jersey immigrants who are living and working in the state thanks to the act.

About 2,700 immigrants — or about 12 percent of all DACA beneficiaries in the state — will be able to renew their permits for two more years, according to a new Fast Facts report released by New Jersey Policy Perspective. That is much lower than the estimated 25 percent renewals expected nationwide. Those who can renew will have their DACA status extended through late 2019 or early 2020.

An estimated 61 percent of New Jersey’s entire population of DACA beneficiaries will lose their eligibility for a work permit and deferred action for deportation between October 2018 and June 2019.

September 20, 2017

Some 99 percent of New Jersey schools offered arts programs to their students in 2015-2016, according to new census report, “Arts Ed Now: Every Child, Every School.” The report also indicates that the state is on the way to achieving “universal access” to arts education, with 99.4 percent of all students given the opportunity to take an arts class. Roughly 76 percent of those students (about 1 million) availed themselves of that opportunity.

How close is New Jersey to universal access? The census showed that only 26 schools statewide (serving 9,160 students) reported offering no arts instruction, a dramatic reduction from a decade ago when more than 77,000 students did not have access.

September 19, 2017

According to a new fact sheet from The Sentencing Project, African-American youth are over 30 times more likely to be detained or incarcerated by the police in New Jersey than their white counterparts.

New Jersey has the highest black/white disparity rate in the country, twice that of Wisconsin, which is in second place. It is a distinction that we would be better off without.

An earlier report from the project indicates that New Jersey also has the worst black/white disparity rate for adult incarceration in state prisons in the country. A black adult is 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white adult.

September 18, 2017

It’s the beginning of cranberry harvest season, which means it’s busy in the Pine Barrens. Most of New Jersey’s estimated 3,000 acres of cranberry farming takes place in a state-protected area in South Jersey.

New Jersey is third in the nation in cranberry production, after Massachusetts and Wisconsin. The fruit, which is only one of three — blueberries and concord grapes are the others — that can trace their origins to North America, has been cultivated in the Garden State since the mid-19th century. A New Jersey grower, along with two growers from Massachusetts, joined up in 1930 to create Ocean Spray, a farm cooperative. New Jersey’s leading grower today is the Haines family from Chatsworth, which farms 700 acres; the Haines family farm has been in operation since the late 19th century.

Cranberries are often harvested through a “wet” process in which the bogs are flooded with water — the cranberries are loosened from their vines and they float to the surface. This process is responsible for the beautiful red photographs that are taken of the cranberry harvest. But not all the cranberries on your grocery aisle are harvested this way. There is also a dry process of harvesting, which typically produces the bagged fruit which will soon flood the markets.

September 15, 2017

Precisely half of New Jersey voters say that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez should not be re-elected next year, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday. The percentage of voters in favor of his re-election is a wan 20 percent, while 30 percent are undecided. Menendez (D-NJ) received a negative 31 percent – 49 percent job approval rating; that’s his lowest since February 2008, when he got a 30 percent – 31 percent rating.

Menendez currently is fighting for his reputation in a corruption trial in Newark that is expected to go on for several weeks. If that trial goes against him and he must leave the Senate, the poll found that the majority of New Jersey voters (68 percent) want the choice for his replacement to be left to the next governor, while 24 percent say that Gov. Chris Christie should make the appointment. The percentage of voters who think Christie should appoint himself to replace Menendez? Three percent.

The poll found voters disapprove of the job Christie is doing by 79 percent – 16 percent. That gives him the lowest approval rating of any governor in any state that Quinnipiac University has polled in more than 20 years. Even Republicans give him a strong thumbs-down: 61 percent – 35 percent.

Voters in the Garden State continue to disapprove strongly of the job President Donald Trump is doing (61 percent – 32 percent); but that’s an improvement on his June 14 disapproval rating (66 percent – 28 percent).

September 14, 2017

Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy has opened a towering 58 percent – 33 percent lead over Republican rival Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, according to yesterday’s Quinnipiac University poll

Murphy leads Guadagno among likely voters of every party, gender, education, age, and racial group, except Republicans, who back Guadagno 78 percent – 16 percent; white voters with no college degree, who are divided 46 percent for Guadagno and 42 percent for Murphy; and white men who are split 46 percent for Murphy and 45 percent for Guadagno.

New Jersey voters have a 37 percent – 18 percent favorable opinion of Murphy; 43 percent said they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Guadagno gets a negative 25 percent – 33 percent rating, with 40 percent saying they haven’t heard enough to form an opinion. 

For 47 percent of New Jersey voters, Guadagno’s role as lieutenant governor to Gov. Chris Christie has a negative impact on their opinion of her. Another 11 percent say it has a positive impact and 40 percent say it doesn’t matter. 

Taxes are the most important issue among 30 percent of likely voters; 15 percent list the economy; 13 percent cite education; and 11 percent say healthcare.

September 13, 2017

In 2015, 81.6 percent of New Jersey households had broadband Internet connections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

More New Jersey households have high-speed online access using a DSL service, cable modem, or other method than the national average of 76.7 percent. The highest rate was 84.5 percent in New Hampshire, while the lowest was 61 percent in Mississippi.

It’s not enough to simply have access to a computer today, the report notes. A high-speed connection is necessary to get all the benefits from the Internet, whether it’s for students researching a school paper, an unemployed adult searching for jobs, or anyone seeking to stay in touch with friends and family.

“More and more, access to computers and broadband Internet opens the door to a variety of opportunities,” the report states. “Access to computers and a broadband Internet subscription has become increasingly important to Americans in carrying out their day-to-day lives.”

September 12, 2017

In July, Hunterdon County had the lowest unemployment rate, 3.7 percent, in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. jobless rate is 4.6 percent.

Besides Hunterdon, New Jersey had the next four counties with the lowest unemployment rates: Morris (3.8 percent), Somerset (4.0 percent), Bergen (4.1 percent), and Monmouth ( 4.2 percent).

According to the bureau’s Chief Regional Economist Martin Kohli, 17 of the 25 counties in the metropolitan area had jobless rates at or below the U.S. average. Rates in 18 of those counties declined over the past year, with the largest declines occurring in New Jersey.

September 11, 2017

According to the recent report, “Household Food Security in the United States 2016,” 11.1 percent of New Jersey’s 3,367,000 households are defined as having low or very-low food security.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which just published the report, says that households with low food security report multiple problems buying food and indicate reduced diet quality, but those with very-low food security eat less and sometimes go hungry.

The report also indicates that across the country specific households and ethnic groups exhibit higher rates of food insecurity than the national average of 12.3 percent, including:

  • All households with children (16.5 percent)

  • Households with children under age 6 (16.6 percent) 

  • Households with children headed by a single woman (31.6 percent) or a single man (21.7 percent) and other households with children (22.2 percent) 

  • Women living alone (13.9 percent) and men living alone (14.3 percent) 

  • Households headed by black non-Hispanics (22.5 percent) and Hispanics (18.5 percent) 

  • Low-income households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (31.6 percent).

September 8, 2017

One of the world’s largest cargo ships, the T. Roosevelt, had no trouble clearing the recently elevated Bayonne Bridge to sail into channels maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The T. Roosevelt has a maximum capacity of 14,414 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units); each TEU is equal to a standard 20-foot shipping container — 20 feet long, 8 feet tall. The largest ship that could pass under the Bayonne Bridge would be 18,000 TEUs.

The clearance of the Bayonne Bridge was recently raised from 151 feet to 215 feet, the same height as the nearby Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Before the elevation, the largest ship that could pass under the Bayonne Bridge was 9,400 TEUs.

To put the size of the T. Roosevelt in perspective, it is four times bigger than the Statue of Liberty and four times longer than an American football field. Only days earlier, the ship became the largest ever to head through the newly expanded Panama Canal on its way to the East Coast from Asia.

September 7, 2017

New Jersey has been awarded more than $66 million in Homeland Security grants. The funding, which applies through fiscal year 2017, is for a range of “preparedness” programs including state and urban security, emergency security, and the security of ports, transit systems, and intercity bus systems.

“These federal dollars will be used to help improve our state’s readiness to… protect our communities against a potential attack or major disaster,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9th), a longtime advocate of the Homeland Security Preparedness Grant programs.

The grants include $20,034,000 to the Jersey City/Newark area for an urban area security initiative. The state received $8,337,000 for a state homeland security program and $8,370,698 in an emergency management performance grant. Beneficiaries of the transit security grant program were: New Jersey Transit, $16,323,464; the Delaware River Port Authority, $3,1775,909; and, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, $2,300,000.

September 6, 2017

The adult obesity rate in New Jersey is 27.4 percent, the 14th lowest in the nation, according to the 14th annual “State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). But adult obesity rates in the Garden State — and elsewhere — continue to climb, albeit very slowly. In 2015, New Jersey’s adult obesity rate was 26.9 percent; in 2011, it was 23.7 percent.

What’s more, the good news is not unalloyed: Adult obesity rates have striking racial and ethnic inequities — with rates above 40 percent for blacks in 15 states, and at or above 35 percent among Latinos in nine states compared with rates above 35 percent among whites in one state. New Jersey's adult obesity rate is 37.2 percent for blacks, 31.4 percent for Latinos, and 25.4 percent for whites.

West Virginia had the highest rate of adult obesity (37.7 percent); Colorado, the lowest (22.3 percent).

Obese individuals are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, and a number of other health issues. Children who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. And the longer children are overweight or obese, the more likely they are to remain so into adulthood.

September 5, 2017

The original purpose of Labor Day — to celebrate the American union movement — is far from the minds of most New Jerseyans on the unofficial last day of summer. But it’s interesting to note that in 2016, 16.1 percent of those employed in New Jersey belonged to a labor union.

That number has been steadily declining in the past 10 years, with the exception of a slight jump from 2015’s 15.4 percent 2016’s 16.1 percent. That translates into 644,000 union workers.

Still, the number of union workers in New Jersey is significantly higher than in most states. In 2016, the average for the country was just a bit over 10 percent. The highest rate of union employment is in New York, with 25.2 percent of workers represented by unions.

August 18, 2017

Although breast cancer survival rates have been increasing in New Jersey and throughout the country, every year approximately 1,300 women in the state die of the disease. About 7,200 women in New Jersey are diagnosed with breast cancer annually.

Carolyn Choate of New Hampshire has survived breast cancer. To help raise awareness — and $500,000 for research into the disease — she is making a 300-mile “River of Life” kayak journey along the Delaware River from Port Jervis, NY to Baltimore, MD to pay tribute to cancer survivors. She also wants to honor Dr. Angela Brodie, a pioneer in the discovery and development of aromatase inhibitors, which are central to the treatment of estrogen-driven breast cancer, the most common form of the disease in postmenopausal women.

Choate began the journey with her daughter on August 10, making stops along the way to highlight what different communities are doing to fight cancer. As part of the journey, they will stop in Trenton today where Choate will meet Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett — and highlight the New Jersey State Cancer Registry, a vital tool in researching and tracking cancer trends. They will be at the Trenton Public Boat Ramp, 1601 Lamberton Road, at 3 p.m.

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