Commentary: Louisiana’s Bold Move to Overhaul High School Career and Technical Education

America’s high schools have problems. Nearly twenty years ago, Bill Gates observed that the existing model is obsolete — that, even when high schools “work,” the results are too often mediocre. In 2016, The Education Trust found that 47 percent of high schoolers graduated prepared for neither college nor a career. In 2018, Gallup reported that two-thirds of high schoolers described themselves as wholly or partially disengaged. And, just last month, the National Center for Education Statistics concluded that high schools are plagued by grade inflation: Over the past decade, grades have risen to a record high even as math and science performance by 12th graders has edged down.

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Connecticut Unemployment Claims Slightly Rising

Unemployment is slowly recovering in Connecticut, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

In its latest Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report, there was an increase in 18,000 initial claims filed throughout the country for the week ending April 9, with a total of 185,000 claims. The four-week moving average for the number of claims filed was set at 172,250, which was adjusted by 2,000 from the previous week’s number.

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Florida Unemployment Claims Lowest Since December 2019

Despite the surge in the new COVID-19 Omicron variant that is especially prominent in Florida, the number of new unemployment claims during the week that ended on December 25th was the lowest since before the pandemic during the same time period in 2019.

According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) on Thursday, the number of initial unemployment claims in Florida for that week was only 3,982 – down 1,178 from 5,160 the week before.

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Report Shows Lowest Florida Jobless Claims Since Before the Pandemic

The four-week average number of Florida jobless claims reached its lowest mark since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) released the information on Wednesday.

The data reflected 5,343 first-time unemployment claims filed in Florida during the week that ended Nov. 20, which dropped the four-week average to 6,045 claims.

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Feds Urge Circuit Court to Reject Florida Request for Hold on Vaccine Rule

Federal attorneys for the Biden administration filed a document Friday evening requesting the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal to reject a potential hold on the rule issued by Biden that would mandate employees of businesses of 100 or more people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be regularly tested and forced to wear a mask.

The hold on Biden’s employee vaccine rule was requested by Florida, Alabama, and Georgia who argue that the rule, established under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), oversteps its authority and would result in thousands of people losing their jobs.

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Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency Warned Twice Before Errors, Emails Show

Emails show that in May 2020, the federal government warned Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance (UIA) about its lax jobless aid qualification questions. Despite a second warning as early as Jan. 6, 2021, the UIA still didn’t fix its mistakes.

The unheeded warnings are now costing nearly 600,000 Michiganders stress as well as potentially thousands of dollars to repay Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits erroneously paid out.

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Biden Nominates Former Florida State Senator for U.S. Labor Department Appointment

Jose Javier Rodriguez

A former Florida Senator and Democrat, José Javier Rodriguez, was nominated by President Joe Biden for Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for the U.S. Department of Labor.

 Rodriquez served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2012 to 2016, and served on the Florida Senate from 2016 to 2020, representing Districts 112 and 37 respectively.

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Initial Unemployment Claims in Florida Decrease

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported a decrease in unemployment claims in Florida for the week that ended June 26th, the last day jobless Floridians were able to receive federal unemployment assistance.

Data released Thursday by the DOL shows 6,086 new claims for that week, a decrease of 7,667 claims from the week that ended on June 19th.

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Florida Unemployment Claims Lowest Since Before the Pandemic

Unemployment line

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported the lowest number of initial unemployment claims in Florida since the week that ended March 14th, 2020.

According to the DOL, the week that ended June 5th recorded an estimated 5,800 initial unemployment claims, which is down from a revised number of 8,257 claims from the week before.

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Florida Unemployment Claims Trending Down

Governor DeSantis lifted the COVID-19 restrictions in the state of Florida and industries look to begin returning back to normalcy starting with the issue regarding unemployment claims. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, for the week that ended May 1st, 2020, there were approximately 18,355 first-time unemployment claims in Florida and 116,304 unemployment claims by individuals who had already filed an initial unemployment claim, also known as insured claims. 

 The 18,355 initial unemployment claims from that week is a 9,662 decrease from the 28,017 initial claims from the week before and the number of insured claims decreased from 129,628 in that same week. The decrease in new claims reflects the national number of new claims during that week which was 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the prior week and the lowest number of initial claims since March 14th, 2020 when the number of new claims was only 256,000. 

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State of Ohio May Have Paid Fake COVID Claims Well in Excess of $330 Million

Scammers took nearly all of the $330 million in reported improper payments the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services made with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds, Director Kimberly Henderson said earlier this month.  That amount was funneled, in part, through 56,000 fake claims which were identified in December.  There were also overpayments on legitimate claims.

But there may be more fraud – much more – that is not yet reported.

Whether the $330 million is from misappropriation that happened in December alone, or is a pile of results spanning several months, is unknown. Henderson said total losses will likely be pinpointed at the end of February.

“They should be able to pinpoint the amount weekly, or monthly,” said Ohio State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova). He continued, “we need to get checks and balances in place to ensure money isn’t stolen in the first place.”

One Ohio State Senator told The Ohio Star the Director has signaled to him that the amount of money lost in ODJFS processing is likely in the ballpark of $1B. 

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Extended Unemployment Benefits Federal Program Ending in Virginia

Approximately 20,000 Virginians who have been relying on extended unemployment benefits over the last several months amidst the coronavirus pandemic will no longer receive those payments come Saturday. 

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced Wednesday that it has been notified by the U.S. Department of Labor that the Extended Benefits Program in Virginia will end on November 21. 

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Ilhan Omar Introduces Federal Job Guarantee Bill

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) introduced a bill last week that would create a “job guarantee program” at the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Workforce Promotion and Access Act, sponsored by Omar and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), seeks to get more Americans “back to work in living-wage jobs created directly by the federal government.”

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