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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Florida remains one of the most "financially distressed" states

Three of the nation’s five most financially strapped communities are in the Sunshine State with Orlando being the nation’s most distressed followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg and South Florida. That assessment comes from CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling agency that surveyed the nation’s 77 largest metro areas on their employment and housing as well as families’ credit, household budget and net worth for its Consumer Distress Index. Read more from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and see the CredAbility report.

Getting an unemployment check in Florida is frustrating for many

When 65-year-old Raymond Togyer isn’t polishing his resume or cold calling potential employers, he’s spending hours trying, unsuccessfully, to navigate Florida’s labyrinthine unemployment compensation system. He is one of hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Floridians flummoxed by what has become the most tightfisted unemployment compensation system in the nation. [Source: Times/Herald]

Medicaid plan would transform health care in Florida

Florida's fast-growing Medicaid program -- which cares for the state's impoverished children and for most senior citizens in nursing homes -- would lose roughly a third of its federal money under budget plans embraced by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Back-to-school basics for working parents

Clearly, most of us know parent involvement can make a difference in a child’s education. But at a time when the literacy rate has plummeted and the SAT reading scores were the lowest on record, are working parents too busy earning a paycheck to take an active role in their children’s learning? [Source: Miami Herald]

Luxury pet spa hopes for 'recession-proof' business

Robert Huff just bet $4.5 million that, even in hard economic times, people will splurge on their pets. His Bayside Pet Resort and Spa offers "5-star amenities for your cat and dog family members." These include luxury kennel spaces with flat-screen televisions — for the pets — and web cams that will allow owners to check in on their animals whenever they want. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]


› Florida fossils dealer seeks dinosaur’s return
A Florida fossils dealer whose dinosaur was seized by the U.S. government so it could be given to the government of Mongolia wants it back.

› New Broward courthouse to rise from wreckage of 'old, tired' building
More than 200 county officials, judges, law enforcement brass and construction workers gathered in downtown Fort Lauderdale Tuesday morning to officially break ground for a massive new $213 million courthouse – and sound a welcome death knell for the current 52-year-old, ailing facility.

› Forecast: Orlando's pay hikes will trail those in other metro areas
Officials have talked for years about the need to bring higher-paying jobs to Central Florida, but a new economic forecast suggests that's not likely to happen anytime soon. In coming years, annual wages in Metro Orlando will grow by 2.5 percent annually, according to the University of Central Florida, the lowest of the 12 metro areas included in the study.

› UF grads launch free app Quilt
Two University of Florida graduates are finding that having a Facebook co-founder as an investor provides instant credibility for their new social media application.

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› AARP brings debate over Social Security and Medicare to Orlando
On the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the AARP's "You've Earned a Say" tour made a pit-stop Tuesday at the Florida Conference on Aging being held at the Grande Lakes Ritz-Carlton in Orlando.

› In tougher economy, Tech Data preps to distribute popular products
Clearwater technology product distributor Tech Data Corp. said some of the top products it will distribute in the latter half of 2012 include Apple's iPhone 5, Microsoft Windows 8 software and big screen TVs with built-in Wi-Fi. CEO Bob Dutkowsky also said he sees rising demand for security products, especially small cameras with wireless connections that consumers can use to improve home security or to view the status of a second home.

› Alcohol package being tested on Carnival ship
Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a new drinks package on a test-run basis. Passengers who are 21 and older aboard the Carnival Victory, which is sailing the Southern Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico, can pay about $50 a day including tip for wine, beer, spirits, soda and frozen cocktails without alcohol.

› Kissimmee bureau adds 13 jobs to attract international visitors
The Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau is adding 13 positions, raising the number of workers to 47 as it steps up efforts to attract international travelers.