NEW JERSEY – U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) on Friday led all of New Jersey’s House delegation to urge Congressional leadership, as further negotiations for coronavirus relief packages take place, to make regional cost-of-living adjustments to stimulus funds to Americans and businesses.
Cost-of-living adjustments were not included in the initial wave of direct payments from the CARES Act and including adjustments in future legislation will both help ensure that middle-class residents and small business owners in higher-cost states like New Jersey are not erroneously excluded from needed assistance and do more to support local economies in those higher-cost regions, the U.S. Representatives said.
In lower-cost states like Mississippi or Arkansas, the same $1,200 checks that New Jersey residents will receive from the CARES Act in the coming weeks have the equivalent spending power of $1,670 and $1,605, respectively, based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and a study recently published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the U.S. Representatives said.
“The facts are clear: this health-related economic slowdown threatens the ability of New Jersey residents to pay for their housing, afford food, or purchase necessary products to protect their health during the pandemic. They must be provided with the same functional assistance all Americans deserve,” the Members wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy this week.
Regarding making cost-of-living adjustments in future relief packages, the Members added, “Doing so would help ensure that New Jersey residents, and other hard-working middle-class Americans and small business owners who live in high-cost states, are not excluded from needed assistance.”
According to a poll published by the Financial Times on April 7th, the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting more than 70% of Americans of all income levels.
From March 22 to 28, 206,253 New Jersey residents applied for unemployment insurance — compared to 6,894 unemployment insurance applications in the same period in 2019, the U.S. Representatives said.
Middle-class salaries in New Jersey are often higher than those in lower-cost states. The median New Jersey household income is $79,363, according to the Census Bureau, which is above the phase-out level for individual tax filers receiving a CARES Act relief check. These higher median incomes do nothing to mitigate the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the 8.9 million residents and 861,373 small businesses that call New Jersey home, the U.S. Representatives said.