New CAP Report Highlights New Jersey’s Successful Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class

New CAP Report Highlights New Jersey’s Successful Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class

Washington, DC – A new report released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund outlines state policies necessary to help state elected officials bypass federal gridlock and strengthen the middle class.

“Progressive policies such as increasing the minimum wage, creating quality jobs, respecting civil rights, tax fairness, strong schools and affordable housing have been centerpieces of our efforts in New Jersey to rebuild the middle-class and lift up the poor, but it’s been a tough and ongoing fight each and every day,” said Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. “It’s comforting to know that we have partners across the country who share the belief that a strong middle-class means a strong America. This report will certainly prove helpful as we fight forward with our efforts to make our state more affordable.”

“Government leaders have an important responsibility to use their power to help rebuild our middle class and create an economy that works for everyone,” said Senate Majority Leader Loreta Weinberg. “This report provides a valuable blueprint of best practices to help state officials achieve a more equitable and prosperous future.”

The report, “States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class,” offers more than 100 recommendations to create a significant number of jobs, boost incomes for a large percentage of the population and meaningfully cut costs for middle-class necessities among others.

Among New Jersey’s numerous successful policies:

  • New Jersey, along with California and Washington have passed paid family leave legislation. 80,000 New Jersey workers have bene­fited from an approved claim under the law. Most used the time provided to bond with a newborn or adopted child, but 15,000 workers reported using it to care for a sick family member.
  • In New Jersey, the state’s best-value contracting law allows a team of profession­als to assess each bidder based on multiple ranking factors,  including price and technical qualifications such as past performance, staff qualifications, and safety.
  • New Jersey became the first state to prohibit in job advertisements language saying employers will not accept applications from unemployed applicants.
  • New Jersey, along with Connecticut and New York, have extended prevailing wage laws—long used to protect contracted construction workers—to low-wage service-sector contractors.

“The American dream is based on the idea that working families deserve security, safety and opportunity for their children,” said Héctor J. Figueroa, President of 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country. “We have a responsibility as a society to keep the pathway to the middle class clear of unfair obstacles so that working people have access to good jobs with benefits, quality healthcare, affordable housing, and a decent education. This report shows that states’ efforts to protect working families have a powerful and positive impact, and should be expanded and encouraged.”

The report includes more than 100 policy reforms to:

  • Improve the quality of existing jobs
  • Reform the tax code so that it raises sufficient revenue fairly and efficiently
  • Stabilize the housing market, ensure affordable rental housing, and help rebuild communities affected by the foreclosure crisis
  • Improve the quality of education for all students
  • Ensure affordable, quality health care for all
  • Rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure

Read the full report: States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class by Karla Walter, Tom Hucker, and David Madland. To speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Katie Peters at or 202.741.6285.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

With more than 125,000 members in nine states, including 9,000 in the New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. 

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