May 22, 2024

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 3/25/2024

Florida Retail Federation celebrates projected retail growth for 2024

The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is predicting solid retail growth in 2024 in the Sunshine State as a national projection foretells steady retail sales increases for the remainder of 2024. The National Retail Federation (NRF) last week released its retail sales forecast for 2024. The report stated that retail sales across America will increase between 2.5% and 3.5% this year. That amounts to a total between $5.23 trillion and $5.28 trillion in retail sales this year. [Source: Florida Politics]

The key to Florida beaches’ hurricane recovery: the humble sea oat

From eye level, the wisps of green emerging from sand dunes up and down Pinellas County’s barrier islands look sparse, stubby, almost tentative as they peek at the sun. Below the surface, though, they are spreading out, trapping sand in place and acting as a sort of skeleton for a whole ecosystem. These are young sea oats, unassuming plants that allow our beaches as we know them to exist. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

DeSantis eases decades-old limit on work hours for those 16 and 17

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a measure that will ease decades-old regulations on the hours that 16- and 17-year-old Floridians can work. The bill (HB 49), one of 25 signed Friday by DeSantis, was toned down in the waning days of this year’s legislative session but still drew concerns about the impact of longer work hours on students’ studies and the potential use of teens to address labor shortages. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Some Florida universities are pushing back enrollment deadlines because of FAFSA delays

An overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — or FAFSA — has caused delays in the process that determines how much money students can get to pay for college. As a result, some colleges and universities are pushing back their enrollment deadlines as they wait for the FAFSA data needed to determine financial aid packages for students. That aid includes grants, loans, scholarships and work-study dollars. [Source: WLRN]

Manatee status could spur lawsuit

Supporters of bolstering protections for manatees notified the federal government Thursday that they are preparing to file a lawsuit over delays in determining whether manatees should be classified as an endangered species. The notice stems from a petition that four organizations and an individual filed in November 2022 asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify manatees from a threatened species to an endangered species. [Source: News Service of Florida]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Florida jobless rate unchanged at 3.1% in February, metro Orlando up slightly
Florida’s unemployment rate held at 3.1 percent in February for the third consecutive month, even as job losses were posted in many industry sectors. The unemployment rate for the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan statistical area rose to 3.2 percent from 3.1 percent in January.

› End of an era: Last ULA Delta IV Heavy triple-core rocket to lift off from Cape Canaveral
Marketed as "the most metal of rockets," United Launch Alliance's massive triple-core Delta IV Heavy roars to life amid a blazing hydrogen fireball on the launch pad, with raging flames billowing and blackening its orange boosters seconds before liftoff. Heavy-metal-music pyrotechnic comparisons aside, Rob Long has a soft spot for the retiring mega-rocket — as do many of thousands of employees involved with the program the past two decades on the Space Coast.

› Lambos. Jewels. How ‘easy money’ from Uncle Sam made Miami a feast for PPP fraudsters
When the coronavirus threatened to turn the nation into a graveyard of failed businesses, Congress rushed through an emergency loan program: about $800 billion — roughly the size of the annual defense budget — was doled out in a matter of months to millions of companies. South Florida was a fraudster’s feast.

› Tampa Bay companies say AI will help workers, not replace them
Artificial intelligence burst onto the scene in a big way last year after the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Even casual internet users have asked the chatbot to help them craft emails, generate illustrations and answer philosophical questions. While tech companies have been studying AI for decades, many types of businesses are jumping aboard, said Joe Liberatore, CEO and president of the professional staffing services company, Kforce.

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Tags: Daily Pulse, Afternoon Pulse

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