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May 2, 2019

According to just-released data from the Anti-Defamation League, New Jersey had the third-highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2018. What makes this finding even more shameful is the total number of incidents actually declined 4 percent last year, dropping to 200 from 2017’s 208. According to the ADL, that total includes 104 cases of vandalism, 94 of harassment, and two assaults.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued a statement, citing New Jersey’s third-place ranking in the ADL’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents as “alarming and disturbing.” He noted, “I believe we as New Jerseyans are better than this and will continue to stand up to any form of hate.”

New York (340) and California (341) finished second and first for anti-Semitic incidents. There were no incidents reported in Alaska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

ADL also has posted an interactive tool that makes it possible to map extremism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism (H.E.A.T.) locally or nationally.

May 1, 2019

The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 is designed to protect and provide a path to legal status for so-called Dreamers, approximately 2.3 million undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children; it would also give relief to more than 400,000 people who have Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departures.

In a new report, the Center for American Progress finds that Elizabeth, New Jersey was among the top 25 cities in the country with the greatest number of eligible residents. For Elizabeth (23rd in the list), that number is 5,400. Newark was 24th in the list, with 4,900 eligible. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles and New York City had the greatest number of eligible residents, 112,900 and 109,400 respectively. California had a total of eight cities in the top 25.

The legislation is an effort to restore key protections for these immigrants that were ended by the Trump administration.

April 30, 2019

Emergency medical services (EMS) are often the first on the scene during a crisis and can play a crucial role in keeping people alive through time-critical injury, illness, and trauma. According to new data from New Jersey’s Department of Health Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS), EMS responded to 75,258 calls in February this year. That’s an increase from the 74,442 calls in February 2018. However it’s a significant decrease from the 79,589 calls that were made in January 2019.

Keeping response times short can mean the difference between life and death. The county with the shortest response times in the state was Camden; response times were within 10 minutes of a call. The counties with the longest response times were Sussex and Warren (within 22 minutes). Camden’s 10-minute response time and Warren’s 22 minutes remain unchanged from February 2018 while Sussex County’s response time edged down from February 2018, when it was 23 minutes. The city of Camden — which accounted for a large number of the emergency calls in Camden County — attributes its success in keeping response times down to Cooper University Healthcare taking over emergency medical service response three years ago.

The most common reasons people called EMS were for a sick person (13,195 calls), breathing problems (11,102 calls), falls (7,265 calls), and unconscious individuals (6,785 calls).

April 29, 2019

It’s called the “Iron Pipeline,” that stretch of Interstate 95 and its connector highways that extend from states where guns are cheap and easy to buy like Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to New Jersey where guns are tightly restricted and illegal weapons can fetch a high price.

The newly revamped NJGunStat website lays out the facts: In the first quarter of 2019, 83 percent of 569 guns used in the commission of a crime came from out of state. Digging a little deeper in the data, supplied by the New Jersey State Police, reveals where the guns came from: Pennsylvania (78), Virginia (58), North Carolina (61), South Carolina (43), Georgia (49).

Handguns are the weapon of choice, with 9 mm pistols recovered most commonly (73), followed by .40 caliber (30), .30 caliber (29), and .22 caliber (27).

As for where smuggled guns are used in crimes: Essex County (52), Camden (27), Mercer (24), Passaic (21), Hudson (20 ), and Bergen (18). Warren, Sussex, and Hunterdon were tied for last place, with one gun recovered in each.

April 26, 2019

Americans’ credit spending was greater than ever in 2018, with debt reaching record levels. Overall consumer debt reached $13.3 trillion in the last quarter last year, according to Experian, the consumer and business credit reporting company.

An analysis of that massive indebtedness shows that mortgage debt reached $9.4 trillion; student-loan debt, $1.37 trillion; auto loan balances were $1.27 trillion; and personal loan debt, $291 billion.

Credit card debt reached an all-time high of $834 billion. Experian says that New Jersey had the second-highest average credit-card balance of all states in 2018 at $7,511. And now for the good news: New Jersey is one of only six states that saw a year-over-year decrease in average total debt

April 25, 2019

Two-thirds of New Jerseyans are concerned about the impact of climate change, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll conducted in collaboration with the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance at Rutgers University.

Thirty-seven percent say they are “very concerned” about the effects of climate change on their life or family members and the people around them. Another 30 percent are “somewhat concerned,” and the remaining third are “not very” (15 percent) or “not concerned at all” (18 percent).

On the policy side, more favor the state government combating climate change by offering incentives (45 percent) to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions rather than imposing limits (29 percent). Yet when asked who should pay to make New Jersey more resilient to climate change, 62 percent want fuel producers and heavy users that cause the most greenhouse-gas emissions to pay a “major share” of the cost; another 22 percent say they should pay a “minor share.”

Forty-three percent believe state government should pay a “major share” from the taxes it collects; another 35 percent say they should pay a “minor share.”

April 24, 2019

Half of New Jersey residents (51 percent) fear they or someone they know will become a victim of gun violence. Twenty-three percent are very worried about the possibility and another 28 percent are somewhat worried. Twenty-two percent are not too worried and 27 percent are not worried at all. Seventeen percent say they or someone they know has already experienced gun violence in the past 12 months. A new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll conducted in collaboration with the New Jersey Center on Gun Violence Research at Rutgers University, elicited the views on gun violence.

Despite the fears, two-thirds of New Jerseyans believe gun violence is either a small problem (22 percent) or not a problem at all (44 percent) in their local community. A third consider gun violence to be a big problem (20 percent) or somewhat of a problem (12 percent).

“While New Jerseyans as a whole may not view gun violence as a major problem, it is a very real and significant concern for certain groups in the state,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University. “Experience with and concerns about gun violence are more prevalent among black residents, lower income residents, less educated residents, and those who live in urban areas.”

There was an almost even split among respondents on whether keeping a gun in the home is a useful safety measure. Thirty-nine percent say a gun in the home makes it safer, while 40 percent say it makes it more dangerous. Another 16 percent say it depends, and 5 percent are unsure. Fourteen percent of residents report having some sort of firearm in or around their home.

On the issue of gun violence in schools, two-thirds of parents (65 percent) say they have talked to their children about it. More than six in 10 residents strongly (41 percent) or somewhat (22 percent) support putting armed guards in K-12 schools, while a third are opposed. But residents don’t favor allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds: More than two-thirds strongly (54 percent) or somewhat (14 percent) oppose doing this, while less than three in 10 support it (17 percent strongly, 12 percent somewhat).

April 23, 2019

Many New Jerseyans view deer as menaces on the road; a statewide survey by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll and the New Jersey Farm Bureau finds that a significant percentage of residents (39 percent) have been in an auto accident involving a deer or know of someone who has. The likelihood of unpleasant encounters with the ruminants goes way up — to 61 percent — for residents in the northwest of the state (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties).

“Deer strikes on the roadways can cause fatalities,” said Farm Bureau president, Ryck Suydam. “That safety issue, plus millions of dollars in automobile damage each year create a demand for legislative action,” he said.

Deer are also given bad-neighbor awards for other transgressions, including damage to crops, landscape and woodlands. “…surplus deer ravage the state’s woodlands new growth,” said Peter Furey of the Farm Bureau. “Not enough people are talking about this environmental issue.”

New Jerseyans’ baleful view of Bambi and friends is underlined by one particular result in the survey: a majority (62 percent) of Garden State residents strongly support hunting as a way of controlling the state’s deer population, with men far more likely (76 percent) to favor it than women (48 percent).

April 22, 2019

Driving while under the influence of marijuana is become a bigger issue as more states legalize recreational use of the drug; it also has been a concern for many opponents of legalization in New Jersey. Experts agree that more research is needed to understand the impacts of marijuana on driving and road safety and to establish safe driving rules. A new survey in the 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., where recreational use is legal, finds that absent many guidelines, drivers are making very different decisions about driving after using it.

The survey, by the car insurance comparison website The Zebra, found that 60 percent of users said they drive while under the influence of marijuana. And 60 percent said they decide if they’re fit to drive (after partaking) based on how they feel, but only 27 percent said they trust others to know when they’re too impaired to drive. More than a quarter of those surveyed (26 percent) said they drive within an hour of using marijuana. Seven percent said they use marijuana while driving. One respondent in that last category said, “I usually smoke marijuana if I'm waiting in a car, but sometimes while driving. I don't think people should drink and drive however.”

April 19, 2019

Yet another way to divide people into two groups is by whether they love or loathe black jellybeans. According to candystore.com, Garden State residents are firmly in the first category, preferring black licorice beans over 21 other flavors. Unfortunately, New Jersey is tracking a trailing trend: Black licorice was the No. 1 bean nationally two years ago, slipping to second place last year and coming to rest in the third slot this time around. Peach and cherry fill out the state’s top three choices. Buttered popcorn is the country’s favorite flavor.

A few more factoids: Six million jellybeans are manufactured just for the Easter season, enough to reach one-third of the way to the moon. National Jelly Bean Day falls on April 22 this year, if you need another reason for risking sugar shock.

Candystore.com, which seems to aggregate information on anything bad for your teeth, has also put together a ranking of the 10 worst Easter candies, according to 23,000 people surveyed. The first entry on the list was Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy; number eight, Hershey’s carrot-cake-flavored Kisses. The seventh slot was taken by chocolate crucifixes, which probably deserve a special award for being in the worst taste possible. And the pinnacle of unpopularity? Cadbury Creme Eggs, which can melt into “goo” while folks are working on their sugar fix.

April 18, 2019

The so-called Big Six fundraising committees raised less than $1 million during the first three months of 2019, the smallest haul in at least a decade for a state election year.

Quarterly reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) show that the two major state parties and four legislative leadership committees raised a relatively paltry $981,798 during the first quarter.

Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said while it still is early in the year, the latest quarterly totals are another warning sign for the state’s political parties.

All told, the Democrats have raised $531,970 for the first quarter of the year: New Jersey Democratic State Committee ($244,466), Senate Democratic Majority ($56,404), and Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee ($231,100). Meanwhile, the Republicans have pulled in $449,828: New Jersey Republican State Committee ($213,905), Senate Republican Majority ($112,250), and Assembly Republican Victory ($123,673).

ELEC, according to Brindle, has suggested reforms “to raise general contribution limits for party and candidate committees, and easing tight pay-to-play contribution restrictions from parties, imposing them instead on political action committees.

“Parties are an essential part of our political system. Steps need to be taken to prevent them from being rendered irrelevant by the growing clout of independent spenders,” Brindle said. “S-1500/A-1524 is a step toward aligning disclosure requirements of independent groups with those of parties and candidates.”

April 17, 2019

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $84.5 million in grants to help public housing agencies in New Jersey preserve, repair and modernize affordable homes.

The money will be split among more than 60 such agencies across the state. The Newark Housing Authority is receiving the largest award, at $24 million, following by Jersey City, which won roughly $7 million, Trenton, $4.7 million, and Paterson, with an award of $4.2 million. The allocations range down to $84,154 awarded to the Housing Authority of the Borough of Clementon in Camden County.

“This money will allow our housing agencies to make much needed repairs and upgrades to help thousands of families across the state access safe, quality, reliable and affordable housing that all Americans deserve,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in a joint announcement with the state’s other representative in the Senate, Cory Booker.

April 16, 2019

Today is National Health Care Decisions Day, when we are prompted to become informed on the importance of advance planning for end-of-life medical care.

A new poll shows that most New Jerseyans (97 percent) have discussed their end-of-life wishes with a loved one and 39 percent have talked about it with a lawyer or a financial planner.

But the gap between talking and taking action to record those wishes is substantial. “People are thinking about their end-of-life care wishes, but there’s a real gap when it comes to discussing them and writing them down,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “The gap is wider for some groups more than others, influenced by key factors like age, gender and race.”

The poll shows that only 30 percent of New Jerseyans are pragmatic — and organized — enough to have a written document detailing their wishes. At the same time, the poll, by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, also finds that six in 10 New Jerseyans (61 percent) have given a great deal or at least some thought to the issue.

“We know the best way to make sure your end-of-life wishes are respected and honored is to discuss and document them. And that’s why we created Conversation of Your Life (COYL),” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “We therefore need physicians, nurses and other health care providers to encourage patients to talk about — and then document — their wishes. And if health care providers don’t bring the topic up, then patients should.”

April 15, 2019

State tax collections swelled in March, helping to push the rate of growth in total revenues for the first nine months of the 2019 fiscal year to 4.7 percent, according to the latest official revenue report provided by the state Department of Treasury.

For the month of March alone, total tax collections were up by nearly 17 percent compared to March 2018. But despite the productive month, there’s still cause for concern. The state budget for FY2019 relies on overall revenues growing by a nearly 8 percent rate by the time the fiscal year closes on June 30.

The state’s largest single source of tax revenue is the income tax, and it continued to lag last year’s tax collections through the first nine months of FY2019, by nearly 4 percent. But there was an uptick in March, and Treasury officials are expecting to get back on pace with a major income-tax haul this month as final tax returns are sent in to meet today’s filing deadline.

April 12, 2019

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a study tapping Rutgers University research that shows a 43 percent increase in the rate of autism spectrum disorder reported in New Jersey between 2010 and 2014.

The report found that New Jersey’s rate was the highest of the states studied: one in 35 4-year-olds here, versus one in 59 elsewhere.

New Jersey’s higher rates are likely due to more accurate or complete reporting based on education and healthcare records, researchers said. Similar studies were conducted in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.

Rutgers professor Walter Zahorodny, who directed the New Jersey portion of the study, said the analysis shows U.S. autism rates are continuing to rise without plateauing. He called the results “consistent, broad and startling.”

April 11, 2019

New Jersey has a reputation for high taxes. A new poll puts a number on exactly how frustrated residents are with those taxes. Only 18 percent said they are getting their money’s worth in exchange for what they pay in taxes, according to a recent survey by Rutgers-Eagleton in collaboration with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

The tax bill that draws the most scorn from residents is the local property tax, which only 20 percent of those surveyed said they considered to be a very fair or somewhat fair tax. That comes after the average New Jersey property tax bill rose to a record high last year of ($8,767).

The state’s gas tax — which also increased last year — draws low marks as well, with only 23 percent of those surveyed saying it’s very fair or somewhat fair.

Doing somewhat better is the state income tax, which was viewed as very fair or somewhat fair by 38 percent. And the state sales tax — which was slightly reduced in recent years — fared the best; it was viewed as very fair or somewhat fair by 58 percent of those who responded to the poll, which was conducted from March 7-22.

The poll also sought residents’ views on related issues like education, affordability and spending. Interestingly, it found that 59 percent said they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with how the state is handling K-12 education, a service that is heavily funded with local property taxes, and to a lesser degree, state income taxes — two of the taxes that poll respondents considered to be more unfair than fair.

The poll also asked residents about the public-employee pension system, which is grossly underfunded and eats up nearly 10 percent of the state’s annual budget. Only 11 percent favored using increased taxes to fund the state’s regular pension contributions. Among the “tradeoffs” that were considered as more appealing remedies were making employees increase their pension contributions and reducing the quality of their health benefits. Those options drew 65 percent and 64 percent support, respectively. But the pension-funding question did not explain that the state has a long record of underfunding its own pension contributions and, in some years, has skipped making a payment altogether.

April 10, 2019

Many of New Jersey’s political leaders might usefully put a stint at charm school on their Google calendars. Not one of them is favored by a majority of the state’s residents, according to a joint poll by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Gov. Phil Murphy scored more favorable than unfavorable reactions in the poll (43 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable, with one in five having no opinion). U.S. Sen. Cory Booker did better (46 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable). They were the only two whose numbers, the poll found, were “right side up.”

“These are solidly Democratic politicians who represent a solidly Democratic state. And yet, none of them appear to be wowing the crowds,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of government and director of the FDU Poll. “But they’re doing far better than two marquee Republicans.”

As for the marquee GOP twosome, the poll found sometime-Bedminster resident President Donald Trump’s numbers were 30 percent favorable, 59 percent unfavorable. His chum, and New Jersey’s former governor, Chris Christie did even worse (21 percent favorable, 63 percent unfavorable).

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) registered 13 percent favorable, 21 percent unfavorable; and, for all the power he wields in the state, the poll found he remains unknown to many residents: 46 percent had no opinion of him, and 19 percent weren’t sure who he is.

Humble pie, anyone? Probably not.

April 9, 2019

Did you know there’s a peak season for scammers making robocalls? Apparently, their busy season is right now, with the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns approaching. AllAreaCodes.com analyzed 15 million consumer complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2016-2018 and, based on consumer complaints about violations of Do-Not-Call rules, ranked the states (and the District of Columbia) for those most at risk for tax-season scams. New Jersey ranked sixth for those annoyances, with 2,333 complaints. The most complaints were from residents of Nevada (2,579) and the least from people in Alaska (549). The Garden State also featured in the top 100 counties for robocall complaints: Monmouth County (22nd), Middlesex County (68th), and Essex County (85th).

The Internal Revenue Service knows well that much of the seasonal robocalling centers on tax returns. It has issued tips on how not to fall into the clutches of scammers trying to impersonate IRS personnel. Tip number one: Know that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, ask for a credit card number over the phone, or threaten people with the police or lawsuits.

April 8, 2019

The need for a more diverse faculty at Rutgers University is a big issue for current teachers at the institution. Rutgers president Robert Barchi has just announced a boost in funding for that goal, with $20 million added to Rutgers’ Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative. The money will extend an existing $22 million program that was set to expire in July 2021; that program is for new hires as well as providing “funds to support mentoring and retention activities,” said Barchi in a letter announcing the $20 million infusion. He said the extra money will enable schools and departments to do more hiring in the 2019-2020 academic year and assist “in attracting and retaining a world-class faculty that embodies our dedication to diversity and inclusion.”

The Rutgers president noted that, “Since its inception in the fall of 2016, seventy-nine faculty have been hired through this salary support program, in addition to other diverse faculty whose salaries are supported by departments and schools.”

April 5, 2019

There’s overwhelming support in New Jersey for the development of wind farms off the state’s coast. A new Monmouth University Poll has found that three-quarters of residents (76 percent) give a thumbs-up to such development. Of those, 48 percent said it should be a major priority over the next decade.

The poll suggests that the cost of developing wind farms may be a key issue, however. It found that 45 percent of residents would oppose developing more wind farms if it caused their electricity rates to increase; slightly fewer (41 percent) would still favor forging ahead in that event. However, a majority (58 percent) would be supportive even if their electricity rates increased, if they also believed this would significantly reduce carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

“This could be tricky for clean energy advocates,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Support for wind energy could drop once New Jersey ratepayers become aware of any development costs they will have to bear. However, they could become more willing to shoulder some of that investment if they are convinced it will lead to real environmental benefits.”

On the possible effects on their utility bills, New Jerseyans are a little hazy. Nineteen percent figure their rates would go up for the next few years, 35 percent believe their rates would decrease, and another 35 percent think they would stay the same. In the long term, a majority (52 percent) expect rates would be lower than if no new wind farms were developed; 24 percent expect no change in rates a decade from now if the state develops more wind energy; 15 percent expect rates would be higher 10 years from now.

The poll found a big enthusiasm gap between people’s support for wind farms and some other energy options. Only 30 percent of residents said they favor drilling for oil and gas off the state’s coast while twice as many (61 percent) oppose it. Further development of nuclear power in the state got even less support; only 26 percent would favor building another nuclear power plant in New Jersey, while two-thirds (67 percent) would oppose it.

April 4, 2019

Seven in 10 New Jerseyans strongly (46 percent) or somewhat (26 percent) support raising taxes on households making more than $1 million annually, according to the first joint poll between Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Opposition is divided evenly between 14 percent strongly against and 14 percent somewhat against.

“Support is just as strong for a millionaires tax as it was a year and a half ago,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “This may change as more details are released and as the proposal plays out in the Legislature in the coming months, but as of now, this could be a much-needed win for Murphy — at least in the public’s eyes.”

After more than a year in office, Murphy himself remains largely undefined in the minds of New Jersey voters. Half (50 percent) believe he hasn’t yet had any significant accomplishments. More approve (52 percent) than disapprove (43 percent) of his job performance, but support is not overwhelming. In fact, disapproval has increased by double digits since last fall.

Approval of how the governor is handling key issues is also mixed. He receives his lowest approvals on taxes and the state pension fund and his highest — and only majority — approval on weather-related emergencies.

All in all, over half of residents (56 percent) say Murphy is doing about as well as they expected in his first year as governor; 16 percent say he is outperforming their expectations, and 25 percent say he is doing worse than they anticipated.

As for the state as a whole, residents have grown a bit more pessimistic about New Jersey’s future since last fall: 58 percent now say the the state is on the wrong track, compared with 42 percent who feel it is moving in the right direction.

April 3, 2019

In the decade between 2007 and 2017, New Jersey made considerable progress in reducing the number of children in foster care who were placed in group homes; the number went from 1,739 (19 percent) to 332 (6 percent). A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that 94 percent of children in foster care in the Garden State were placed with families rather than in group placements by 2017. That was up from 80 percent in 2007. Nationwide, care systems placed 86 percent of the children with families in 2017, compared with 81 percent in 2007.

“Given the progress New Jersey has already made in reducing reliance on group home or institution care, we can focus on other aspects of the Family First Act such as supportive services to keep children safely at home and services to support successful reunification when children do need to enter foster care,” said Mary Coogan, vice president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Nationwide, the report indicates, there has been little progress getting teenagers out of group placements and into family settings; more than one-third of youngsters in child welfare systems, age 13 and older, lived in group placements in 2017, the same proportion as in 2007.

The number of children in foster care in New Jersey in 2017 was 5,946.

April 2, 2019

Today is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date on which women’s earnings nationwide finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. The average woman in the United States earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. The overall average is the same for women in New Jersey, which ranks right in the middle of the states (25th) on pay equity. The only women in the Garden State who out-earn that figure are Asians (88 cents). That’s about the only bright spot. Otherwise, the news on our pay-equity statistics is far from comforting.

The state ranks dead last among the 50 states and Puerto Rico in pay equity for Latinas (51st) and near the bottom for African-American and white non-Hispanic women (both 42nd). Native American women in New Jersey do a little better (36th).

For every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns in the Garden State, the average Latina makes 42 cents. For African-American and Native American women, it’s 56 cents. The figure is 74 cents for white non-Hispanic women.

Women in New York and Pennsylvania do far better. New York: Women’s overall average (88 cents), Asian women (83 cents), white non-Hispanic women (81 cents), African-American women (65 cents), Native American women (62 cents) and Latinas (56 cents). Pennsylvania: Overall (81 cents), Native American women (91 cents), Asian women (81 cents), white non-Hispanic women (78 cents), African-American women (67 cents) and Latinas (57 cents).

The issue has huge financial consequences for women over the course of their working lives. “The typical millennial woman in the U.S. can expect to lose $1 million over her lifetime as a result of the gender wage gap, and this amount is even larger for minority women,” said Professor Yana Rodgers, an economist and faculty director of the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, which announced the rankings. “Much of the disparity results from the ‘mommy tax,’ in which women with caregiving obligations hold lower-paying jobs with more flexibility, or they exit the labor market to care for young children only to return to low-level jobs,” Rodgers said. “Government policies have helped to narrow the gender pay gap over time, but more needs to be done to eliminate the ‘mommy tax,’ open doors to women in non-traditional occupations, and support fathers in taking on caregiving roles.”

April 1, 2019

In 2018, the average rate of union membership among wage and salary workers by state was 10.5 percent, down 0.2 percent from the previous year. In New Jersey, there were 587,000 (or 14.9 percent) employed union members out of the total of 3,935,000 wage and salary workers; that was down from 16.2 percent in 2017. (The data are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

The total of union workers in the United States last year was 14.7 million. Twenty states had union membership rates above the U.S. average, with Hawaii (23.1 percent) and New York (22.3 percent) the highest. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia had rates below the U.S. average, with the lowest rates in the Carolinas (both 2.7 percent).

More than half of the union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states: California (2.4 million); New York (1.9 million); Illinois (800,000); Pennsylvania (700,000); and Michigan, Ohio, and Washington (600,000 each).

Some national statistics of note: The rate of union membership among public-sector workers (33.9 percent) was more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent); men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.1 percent) than women (9.9 percent); median weekly earnings for nonunion workers were 82 percent of earnings for union members ($860 versus $1,051).

March 29, 2019

The dollar value of New Jersey’s manufactured goods has increased “almost 75 percent since 2000 and account for nearly 90 percent of New Jersey’s exports.” So said Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic), who added, “These goods are shipped throughout the United States and all over the globe.” Not too shabby! Calabrese suggests that manufacturing in the Garden State — which supports almost a quarter of a million jobs — is “booming.”

Calabrese and Assembly colleagues Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey (both D-Monmouth) are behind a measure to create an official “NJ-Made” logo to be used by in-state manufacturers. Their bill (A-3692) didn’t draw any arguments; it passed the full Assembly by a vote of 75-0. “A state brand showcases the variety of goods and products made right here in New Jersey,” said Houghtaling. “We can celebrate and raise awareness of New Jersey’s manufacturing sector by promoting state production anywhere the product is sold in the world. That’s just good business.”

March 28, 2019

It really wouldn’t do to say that New Jersey’s beekeepers are angry as hornets, but they are definitely abuzz about the state’s draft regulations for keeping honey bees. Actually, it’s not just beekeepers that are put out by the Department of Agriculture’s proposals. According to the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, the 1,100 negative comments came from academics, legislators, beekeepers, environmental commissions, town councils, and county agricultural boards.

For the NJBA, more than bees and honey are at stake. It argues that the “whole system of policy-making” for the agriculture industry in the Garden State is at “risk” if the secretary of agriculture and his staff can “ram through policies and procedures.”

March 27, 2019

New Jersey ranked 11th among the states for jobs in the solar industry in 2018, with 6,410 people employed, according to the Solar Foundation. That included jobs in installation (4,364, an 18 percent decrease), wholesale trade and distribution (711, down 10 percent), manufacturing (609, down 10 percent), operations and maintenance (482) and unspecified other jobs (243, which decreased by 25 percent).

Employment in solar in the Garden State went down by 9.8 percent overall last year, a loss of 696 jobs. New Jersey generated 4.17 percent of its electricity from solar energy last year.

March 26, 2019

Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacteria that causes tuberculosis 137 years ago and healthcare entities have been trying to eradicate the disease ever since. But tuberculosis, or TB, remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases. One third of the world’s population is infected with it. In 2017, about 10.4 million people around the world became sick with TB disease and there were about 1.7 million TB-related deaths worldwide.

The rate of active tuberculosis continues to decline in the United States. And efforts toward its eradication continue in New Jersey, where 291 residents were diagnosed with active TB last year. “This represents a 70 percent decrease in cases since TB peaked in New Jersey in 1992,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. There were 984 cases in 1992.

TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread from person to person through the air. It typically affects the lungs but can affect the brain, kidneys and spine. Babies, young adults, the elderly, those with HIV and those with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of contracting the disease, as well as people with cancer, severe kidney disease, low body weight and those who have undergone an organ transplant.

There are two types of TB conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: latent TB infection and TB disease. TB bacteria can live in the body without making one sick, thus “latent” TB infection. “In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB bacteria to others.” It’s when TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, that a person goes from having latent TB infection to being sick with “active” TB disease.

For more information about New Jersey’s TB program and information about the disease, click on this link.

March 25, 2019

Accountants in New Jersey aren’t running up the bunting for Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget. Indeed, when polled by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, 70 percent of nearly 500 CPAs said his budget would make the state’s economy worse over the long term. Thirty-eight percent were of the view the state’s economy would become “significantly worse,” while a somewhat less pessimistic cohort (32 percent) said the economy would become “marginally worse.” A further 17 percent said the economy would “stay the same.” Only 12 percent marked themselves as in the optimistic camp.

Among the CPAs with a gloomy outlook, most said the governor wasn’t focusing enough on the amount of state spending on public pension benefits and wasn’t dealing with high property taxes for both residents and businesses. They also were not keen on his proposed millionaire’s tax.

The small group who were optimistic about the governor’s plan suggested it would deliver increased revenues from the highest-income taxpayers, reduced healthcare costs, and the prospect of tax revenue from the sale of legalized, adult-use marijuana.

Nearly half those surveyed (47 percent) rated the state’s economy as “fair,” compared with 29 percent who described it as “poor” and 23 percent as “good.”

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