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Marijuana legalization initiatives could inject $7.8B into economy

Voters in nine U.S. states will decide on marijuana legalization initiatives come November. And if just seven of those initiatives pass, a new report says those states could inject $7.8 billion into the nation's economy by 2020.

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Of course, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

But Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Florida and California are all voting to loosen their own pot restrictions.

And the report from New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research says it could mean big money.

The study also claims the entire cannabis industry in the U.S. could hit $20.6 billion by 2020, which is slightly less than what was predicted earlier this year.

Still, as New Frontier's CEO said in a statement, "The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy and continues to astonish those in and out of the space."

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form.

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Fact-checking Donald Trump: Is federal unemployment number a 'hoax'?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addressed hundreds of people gathered in Detroit on Monday to outline his economic policies.

"This is what I want to do for our country – I want to jumpstart America," Trump said. "It can be done, and it won't even be that hard."

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He said policies supported by President Barack Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton created "a silent nation of jobless Americans."

"There are now 94.3 million Americans outside the labor force," he said. "It was 80.5 million when President Obama took office – an increase of 14 million people. The Obama-Clinton agenda – tax, spend and regulate – has created a silent nation of jobless Americans."

He went on to say that those numbers reflect real unemployment, as opposed to the rate released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The federal agency puts unemployment at about 5 percent.

"These are the real unemployment numbers," Trump said. "The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics."

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It's not the first time Trump has questioned numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He's made similar claims at least half a dozen times since launching his bid for the White House.

So are federal unemployment numbers incorrect?

No, they aren't.

The problem with Trump's claim is that he appears to be looking at the total number of jobless Americans without factoring out those who aren't looking for work, such as stay-at-home parents and full-time college students.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

Let's take a look at the numbers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday said the nationwide unemployment rate was steady at 4.9 percent last month. During that same time, the Bureau measured the workforce participation rate at 62.8 percent.

The numbers may seem to be incongruous, but that's not the case when you look at how the government determines the unemployment rate.

Feds deem "people who are jobless, actively seeking work and available to take a job," as unemployed. This means people who are jobless, but not looking for work, are factored out of the ultimate unemployment percentage.

To reach its calculation, the government uses the results of a monthly survey combined with statistical sampling. Each month Census Bureau employees reach out to 60,000 sample households to interview people about whether they are looking for work and whether they are employed.

The interviewers don't determine whether a person is unemployed, but instead ask questions which determine the person's status.

"Each person is classified according to their activities during the reference week," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Then, the survey responses are 'weighted,' or adjusted to independent population estimates from the Census Bureau."

The government has been using the survey since 1940 to determine employment rates.

It is worth noting that even if there is some discrepancy between government numbers and real unemployment, economists still put the number at 15.6 percent at the highest, according to PolitiFact.

Tax break for manufacturers, back-to-school shoppers signed by Scott

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.

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Complete legislative and political coverage, MyPalmBeachPost.com/politics

A back-to-school sales tax holiday and breaks for manufacturers and a host of other industries were included in legislation signed into law Wednesday by Governor Rick Scott.

Clothing, shoes and backpacks costing $60 or less will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax the weekend of Aug. 5-7, while school supplies costing $15 or less also will be tax-free.

The back-to-school break amounts to $28.7 million of the $129 million tax-break bill (HB 7099), with the biggest savings going to manufacturers. They’ll get to keep $73.1 million they would have paid in sales taxes on equipment purchases.

The elimination of the tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment is permanent, while the three-day sales tax holiday for school supplies is just for this year. It’s also scaled back from last year’s tax holiday, when shoppers got a 10-day holiday.

House Finance and Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, touted the cuts, saying, “We have made the decision in Florida that we can grow our economy, meet the needs of our state and care for the vulnerable not by having more taxes, but by having more taxpayers. These tax cuts welcome new families, businesses, and visitors to our state each day.”

Other reductions included in the bill affect taxes paid on aviation fuel, asphalt and pear cider. It also affects taxes paid by fruit and vegetable packing houses and how the state levy on some tobacco products is calculated.

The bill signed by Scott was a central part of just over $400 million in tax breaks approved by lawmakers this year.

The biggest share of the reduction, however, will go to property taxpayers, with lawmakers having agreed to reduce taxes used to finance schools. That property tax cut was set in motion when Scott last month signed the state’s $82 billion budget for the year beginning July 1.

Scott’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature sharply scaled back a $1 billion tax-cut plan he sought, and also ignored his pitch for $250 million in economic incentives — which might explain why Scott’s signing of HB 7099 came with little flourish.

Scott held a ceremonial bill-signing as the undercard of his attendance of an announcement by Novolex — which makes plastic bags — that it’s expanding a manufacturing facility in Jacksonville.

In a release, the governor’s office noted that “during the announcement, Gov. Scott also ceremonially signed HB 7099.”

“This bill will not only give Florida families an important back-to-school sales tax holiday, but it will also permanently eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment so companies like Novolex can invest more money in growing their business and creating new jobs,” Scott said in the release.

Scott had campaigned vigorously for his more expensive plan, running television ads, conducting a bus tour in January, and soliciting letters of support from dozens of city and county officials for the tax breaks and economic incentives that he cast as a blueprint for sparking the Florida economy and creating more jobs.

Lawmakers, however, were uneasy about the potential long-term impact of Scott’s plan on Florida’s financing. They also were skeptical of his approach.

Scott’s $1 billion in cuts were aimed almost exclusively at businesses. His bid for another $250 million in economic incentives also was dismissed by state lawmakers wary of handing the governor cash he could use to woo companies of his choice.

Instead, lawmakers tipped tax breaks more toward property owners.

The almost 6 percent reduction in the property tax that the state requires all school districts to collect for public schools — a portion called the “required local effort” — should mean a tax savings of $58 a year to the owner of a $250,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption.

That amounts to about $290 million of the $400 million in overall tax breaks passed by the Legislature this year. At the same time, lawmakers increased public school funding by $458 million, a 1 percent boost, by using other types of taxes and fees collected by the state.

“By reducing local millage rates we are ensuring that state tax dollars, rather than local property taxes, cover a larger share of the unprecedented K-12 per-student funding allocated this year in our budget,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

Ending gender inequality could pay off in the trillions

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What would actually happen if we had worldwide gender equality? Well, one estimate says the global economy would take off.

The director of the McKinsey Global Institute says there would be a $28 trillion boost to the global economy if women and men became equal overnight. That's nearly 1.5 times that of the United States' current economy.

With all that extra money, global government debt could be eliminated. Currently, government debt is estimated at $25 trillion.

>> People in Florida struggle to make ends meet

Researchers studied what would happen if women were as economically involved as men. They looked at factors like job opportunities, leadership positions and wages. The World Economic Forum estimates globally women won't be earning the same as men for another 118 years.

But if countries focused on being as equal as the nation in their region with the least inequality, the boom could still be high, the director also said. We're talking $12 trillion or the total of China's current economy.

The prediction was reiterated at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, but even there, women aren't equally represented. This year they made up less than 20 percent of participants.

What's the best job in the U.S. in 2016?

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Looking for a new line of work or just hoping to brag about your current line of employment?

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The best job in the United States in 2016 is data scientist, according to Glassdoor.com’s annual list of the 25 best jobs in America.

The company ranks jobs based on its Glassdoor Job Score, which factors in the number of job openings, career opportunities rating and salary.

If you’re a data scientist — or want to be one — chances are you’re making a six-figure salary. According to Glassdoor, the average data scientist is bringing in about $116,840 a year.

A definite trend on the list: Many of the jobs involve technology.

Rounding out the top 10 are:

• Tax manager

• Solutions architect

• Engagement manager

• Mobile developer

• HR manager

• Physician assistant

• Product manager

• Software engineer

• Audit manager

View the full list at Glassdoor.com.

The UPS Store Packing Services

Why the Hardware Sector Is Hot Again

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