The actual definition of working poor, by the way, is that at least one person in the family has a job, but the family only makes $38,000 or less for a family of four, which would put them right at the poverty line. The reason that the Mississippi Economic Policy Center’s research findings are catching people’s attention in Mississippi is that the rate of the working poor in Mississippi— remember, 39 percent—is higher than the national average of 28.3 percent. Higher by quite a bit.
The Mississippi Economic Policy Center did not just say that the state should set up a new Mississippi minimum wage. The Mississippi Economic Policy Center research report’s authors also said that Mississippi would work on spending more money on education for adults to retrain them for higher paying jobs, and work through community colleges to provide this education and training programs for employees.
But the Mississippi Economic Policy Center report does say that a major way to correct this issue with the working poor in the state would be to increase the Mississippi minimum wage. It isn’t that the state of Mississippi has not tried to create a state minimum wage law. In the past few years, some law makers have tried to get just such a bill passed through the state legislature, but they have failed in a largely conservative state with firm roots in the ideal of keeping government out of business.
There was even once a bill considered in the Mississippi legislature that would have raised the Mississippi minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, but that not go very far. Another attempt at it earlier this year—which would have created a Mississippi state minimum wage that would have followed the increases proposed in the federal minimum wage bills—passed in the House but did not pass in the Senate.
In announcing the third generation of WIRED grants, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao recently said, “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.”
Keeping job skills current and competitive with today’s increasingly global economy and job market are driving forces behind the WIRED initiative. WIRED is the acronym for Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, an initiative operating under the auspices of the Employment and Training Administration within the US Department of Labor.
Secretary Chao adds, “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
The US Dept. of Labor recently announced a third generation of the highly competitive WIRED grants. Regions that have benefited from previous WIRED grants include northern Alabama, northern Indiana, the Delaware Valley, the Mississippi/Arkansas Delta area and northern California.
A Mississippi unemployment grant would be great news for workers, particularly in parts of the state that have traditionally experienced higher unemployment. This program is called Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative, but almost universally referred to as WIRED grants.
As with previous WIRED grants, competition is keen. Proposals for WIRED grants must have the state governor’s approval. Each governor received a letter from Secretary Chao about the competition. Governors may submit up to two proposals, for grants up to $5 million each. Competing regions must identify sources of state, regional, and private funding to complement the Labor Department’s investment. According to the Dept. of Labor, the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative supports innovative approaches to workforce and economic development that go beyond traditional strategies preparing workers to compete and succeed.
Through WIRED, the department has invested $260 million in 26 regions throughout the country. The program and has facilitated cooperation between 10 federal agencies, sparking synergy to create high skill and high wage job opportunities for American workers in regional economies.
With thanks to economic data supplied by the Mississippi state governor, workers in the Delta region of Mississippi will soon have training programs implemented and funded by the federal government in its effort to upgrade the region’s economy with better jobs for its workforce.
Here’s the latest news on this Mississippi unemployment grant. The initial $500,000 is being used to write a detailed plan for the program, which is almost complete. Once that plan is approved by the US Dept. of Labor, the remainder of the funds will be released.
Assistant US Secretary of Labor Emily DeRocco recently announced a $5 million grant earmarked for job training programs for Employment and Training. According to Assistant Secretary DeRocco, “Strong regional economies that are built on maximizing talent and innovation will be crucial to the nation’s success in the global economy.”
Emphasizing the importance of the global economy, Elaine Chao, US Department of Labor Secretary stated, “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
The $5 million awarded to the Delta region of Mississippi is part of a total package of grants expected to exceed $65 million as part of a program referred to as WIRED. The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) program was developed by the Employment and Training Administration of the US Department of Labor. The first round of grants, awarded in 2005, under the WIRED initiative totaled $195 million and was awarded to 13 regions across the country. The grants were awarded to these regions based upon competitive data supplied by each state’s governor.
The $5 million grant to the Delta region of Mississippi will be funded in two steps. An initial award of $500,000 will be allocated for immediate job training programs while the remaining $4.5 million will be fully funded once a regional plan of implementation specific to the Delta region of Mississippi has been developed.
“Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality,” said US Department of Labor Secretary Chao when she recently announced the $5 million job-training grant for the Delta region of Mississippi.
It’s that time of year again… any worker who collected unemployment benefits in Mississippi should have received his or her 1099 form by now.
The tax benefit generated by Mississippi unemployment claim payments is a tremendous boon to the state’s economy. “Unemployment Insurance benefits not only help workers get by during times of unemployment, it helps stimulate our Mississippi economy,” said an unnamed official at the Department of Labor recently. The official went on to say, “With more than $111 million in benefits going out during the year, our state has given significant assistance to both workers and employers in 2006.”
Mississippi paid these unemployment claims to workers plus claim extensions needed by workers due to extenuating circumstances and payments made under the jurisdiction of the Trade/Readjustment Assistance program. All in all, Mississippi made payments to workers totaling more than $171 million dollars in 2006. These benefits generated income taxes exceeding $6 million.
Mississippi workers receiving unemployment assistance must claim these benefit payments as taxable income on both the state and federal levels. Earnings from these benefits must be reported when income tax returns are filed. To document this income, the Mississippi Department of Labor issues a Form 1099 to every worker receiving benefit payments.
The1099 forms are mailed in late January and workers can expect to receive them no later than the middle of February. In the event a 1099 isn’t received by then, the worker must contact the nearest branch of Mississippi’s Department of Labor. The staff there will gladly assist anyone in getting a duplicate 1099 for 2006 or any other year necessary. Address verification will be required to ensure the worker successfully receives the duplicate.
Workers have the option withholding income taxes from each payment throughout the claim period or paying them at one time when income tax returns are filed. About half of Mississippi’s workers receiving unemployment benefits choose to have taxes withheld from each claim check.