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New unemployment claims drop sharply in Mississippi, but continued claims remain high

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(Photo by Preetifd1990 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83248160)

The number of new unemployment claims in Mississippi for the week ending July 25 saw a sharp drop of more than 3,000 from the previous week.

According to information provided to the U.S. Department of Labor, new claims in the state numbered 8,952 for July 25. The previous week, ending July 18, saw 12,094 new claims for benefits.

At nearly 9,000 new claims, the volume is still nine times higher than new claims filed before the COVID-19 crisis. From late January through the first week in March, weekly claims numbered less than 1,000. New claims started rising the week ending March 14, peaking in early April with two weeks of more than 45,000 claims each.

Another 3,861 Mississippians filed new claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to people generally not covered under state programs, including self-employed, contract and gig workers. The number of new claims under the PUA program also saw a steep drop from the previous week of more than 5,000 claims.

All told, Mississippians filed nearly 13,000 new claims for the week ending July 25, down 8,000 from the previous week.

But the news isn’t all good, as the number of continued claims for benefits remains high. At nearly 156,000 for the week ending July 18, continued claims have been climbing since a recent low in mid-June. Before the COVID-19 crisis, continued claims reached a low of less than 7,000 weekly, meaning that the increase is more than 2,200% from pre-COVID claims.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, more than a half-million Mississippians have filed for unemployment benefits.

Mississippi’s unemployment rate for the week ending July 18 is 11.05%.

Nationally, more than 1.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending July 25.

More than 17 million Americans are unemployed, a rate of 11.6%. Unemployment remains at its highest rate since World War II.

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Monday’s I-20 crash in Louisiana claims the life of a Texas man

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On Monday, Oct. 12, shortly after 8 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop F responded to a crash on Interstate 20 near milepost 182 in Madison Parish. The crash claimed the life of a man from Fort Worth, Texas.

The initial investigation revealed a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by 41-year-old Nathan Ribelin of Fort Worth, Texas, was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20. For reasons still under investigation, the Silverado rear-ended a 1999 International 18-wheeler that was stopped for traffic. After impact, the International 18-wheeler struck the rear of a 2008 Ford F-350 that was also stopped. Ribelin, who was properly restrained, was transported to a hospital where he later died because of his injuries.

A toxicology sample was obtained and submitted for analysis. The crash, which shut down the eastbound lanes of the interstate for several hours, remains under investigation.

To date in 2020, Troop F has investigated 38 fatal crashes resulting in 40 deaths.

 

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Governor announces two MS Board of Ed appointments

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Gov. Tate Reeves announced two Mississippi State Board of Education appointments Tuesday: Angela Bass from Jackson and Glen East from Gulfport. The appointees reflect the Governor’s commitment to continuous improvement in education.

“Mississippi’s children deserve our steadfast commitment to improving education. We must continue to improve outcomes for these students without fear of upsetting the status quo. I am confident that Angela and Glen will serve with honor and represent the interest of parents, teachers and — most importantly — students. Their achievement has to be our top priority,” Reeves said in a statement.

Dr. Angela Bass served as a Teach for America corps member and studied education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, later becoming a teacher in both the Tunica and Desoto County school districts and an administrator at the KIPP Memphis Collegiate High School. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance.

Mr. Glen East serves as the Superintendent of the Gulfport School District. The district represents 10 schools and approximately 5,800 students. It has been designated an Excellence for All School District.

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MS Dept. of Agriculture offering organic certification cost-share program

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The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is offering a cost-share program for Mississippi organic producers and handlers receiving certification or continuation of certification by a United States Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agent, Commissioner Andy Gipson announced Tuesday.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers that have received the USDA Organic Certification in the past year to help offset some of the costs associated with this certification,” Gipson said in a statement, “I am glad that we are able to offer this program again for 2020, and I encourage our farmers to take advantage of this opportunity during these unprecedented times.”

Funding is available for those who received the certification between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020. Individual organic operators are eligible for reimbursement of 50% of their fiscal year 2020 certification costs up to a maximum of $500 per category of certification. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program currently recognizes the following categories of certification eligible for reimbursement: crops, wild crops, livestock and handler.

To be eligible for reimbursement, the following must be provided to MDAC by applicants: proof of certification issued by a USDA accredited certifying agent, a reimbursement form, an itemized invoice for certification-related expenses, an IRS W-9 form and documentation of the payment in the form of a canceled check. Applicants must be Mississippi organic producers and handlers located within the State of Mississippi. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted. Operations may receive one reimbursement per year. The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 15, 2020.

For more information about this program or to obtain an application, visit the MDAC website or contact Susan Lawrence at [email protected] or 601-213-7542.

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