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Florida’s unemployment rate has ticked up to 5.7% – a slight rise from April despite jobs added statewide in that period, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Despite adding about 4,000 jobs, unemployment was up in the western Panhandle; Escambia County rose from 5.3% in April to 5.7%, Santa Rosa, 4.6% to 4.8%, and Okaloosa County from 4.3% to 4.6%.

DEO Secretary Jesse Panuccio said jobless rates were also up in the two local metropolitan areas. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent jumped from 5.1%-5.4%; Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin went from 4.4% to 4.6%.

Environmental activists and supporters of renewable energy are celebrating the strong message from Pope Francis on climate change. And the Pontiff’s encyclical has drawn comment from northwest Florida’s Roman Catholic leader.

An encyclical is considered to be a major writing by a Pope, usually addressed to the universal Church, as well as to anyone who’s willing to read it, says Bishop Gregory Parkes, who oversees the Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese.

Photo via Flickr// U.S. Department of Education / https://flic.kr/p/fCP7RM

The United Way is looking for volunteers to serve as “Reading Pals” to area preschoolers. Andrea Krieger, the President and CEO of United Way of Escambia County, says the Reading Pals program looks to pair at risk preschool children with mentors to help them with reading skills before they enter the school system.

Photo via Flickr// Moyan Brenn / https://flic.kr/p/d4ovX5

This week the Okaloosa County Commission rejected a proposed ordinance to allow open containers for alcoholic beverages in the Mid-Bay Regional Activity Center in the Destin area.

The idea began initially in response to the creation of similar areas in the region that successfully allow open containers. These include the South Harbor Festive Market Place in the city of Destin, the Downtown Business and Entertainment District in Ft. Walton Beach, and in some parts of the city of Pensacola.

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the latest from the U.S. Federal Reserve and other important economic indicators.

The Federal Open Market Committee met this week, as it does every six weeks.

Pensacola PRIDE, celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, kicks off Saturday with a week-long slate of festive and educational events.

There’s even more to celebrate this year, since Florida became the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Doug Landreth, president of Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida, is confident the U.S. Supreme Court will expand it nationwide by the end of this month. That would, among other things, clear up the current legal hodgepodge among states.

IHMC

Throughout my 30-year career at the Pensacola News Journal, a recurring theme of our coverage was poverty and its impact on education. Statistics clearly show that high rates of poverty are reflected by poor performance in schools, and Escambia County has been a prime example.

One of the more enduring themes about education in Escambia is how openly people talked about taking jobs there, but buying a home in Santa Rosa County because they believed the schools were better.

The Escambia County School Board voted Tuesday to spend about $2 million for property, on which to build a new middle school in the western part of the district.  Dave Dunwoody reports

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the land, currently an abandoned airfield on West Nine Mile Road, is the school district’s answer to the booming population growth in that part of Escambia County.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon announce a decision that could cause over 50,000 local people to lose their health insurance. 

Photo via Flickr// Phalinn Ooi

Pointing to a budget agreement reached by lawmakers, Governor Rick Scott's attorneys withdrew a request for a preliminary injunction in a legal battle with the Obama administration about health care funding.

Upon receipt of the filing, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers canceled Friday's scheduled hearing.

According to a notice filed in federal court in Pensacola, Scott's attorneys wrote that the lawsuit would continue because the state and federal governments have not agreed on a broader resolution of the Low Income Pool issue.

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