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Thursday, April 18, 2024

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The Wrap: College Degrees, North Wildwood, End of Pandemic Education Funds

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By Herald Staff

Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up at https://bit.ly/HeraldNewsletters.

Feb. 19-25

College Degrees

Half of college graduates are working in jobs that do not make use of their degrees. A new study reported this week in the Wall Street Journal found roughly half are underemployed even after completing what has become an increasingly expensive college degree program.

Worse, the study found that the vast majority of those graduates remain underemployed a decade after graduation.

The study by the labor analytics group Burning Glass Institute and nonprofit Strada Education Foundation says the recent hot labor market is not making a difference in the increasingly large number of underemployed, college-educated workers. Many of these workers are in jobs that require a high school education, jobs like retail sales, office support and food service.

Adding to the picture, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued its report on the labor market for recent college graduates. The federal reserve’s data shows that one-third of college graduates are in jobs that do not require a college degree and that number rises to 40% for recent college graduates.

Both sources show that the unemployment rate is in part related to the choice of major and specialization within the major. Not even all STEM majors do well in the workplace. A major in biology was an example in both sets of data. The Burning Glass/Strada study and the federal reserve data both showed an underemployment rate for biology majors of 47%.

How do business majors perform? It really depends on what their major was focused on. The Wall Street Journal reports that business majors less focused on quantitative skills were twice as likely to be underemployed as those who completed math-intensive business degrees.

Context for these findings is the fact that only 62% of newly enrolled undergraduate students even complete a degree program in six years. High loan debt, low degree completion rates and now significant levels of unemployment for graduates; it all suggests a problem in need of attention. It may be why an increasing number of Americans feel a four-year college degree may not be worth its cost.

North Wildwood

The struggle between North Wildwood and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection intensified again this week. North Wildwood’s Appellate Court appeal of a DEP denial of an emergency permit failed to bring the city any relief. A two-judge panel ordered the city to exhaust its administrative remedies, a time consuming process which the city feels will not gain its objectives.

The city sought permission for new bulkhead to protect an area between 12th and 15th avenues, which the city claims is in imminent danger due to an existing breach of the protective dune. The DEP stance is that the situation is not an emergency.

The bulkhead issue is just the latest in a long battle over shore protection in North Wildwood. The DEP has hit the city with large multimillion-dollar penalties and the city has sued the agency for millions as well. The DEP claims that city actions not sanctioned by the agency have made the situation worse than it would have been. The city has responded with arguments that the DEP has not done its job protecting North Wildwood residents and property.

At a time when the DEP’s own website warns the public of the onset of more severe storms, rising seas and other threats of climate change, the agency and the city are engaged in a struggle that leaves the DEP with a potential public relations disaster if a storm causes serious damage to lives and property.

December announcements of a potential global settlement of shore protection issues have not materialized in any actual agreement. Instead the struggle goes on.

End of Pandemic Education Funds

On March 4, 2022, almost exactly two years ago, Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the Covid public health emergency. Fewer cases, less virulent outcomes and updated vaccines have all led to a return to a form of normalcy.

During the pandemic the federal government engaged in some of the most monumental relief funding in its history. Billions of dollars were distributed to states, municipalities and school districts. This year marks the end of the pandemic funding for schools – monies distributed to local education agencies must be either spent or at least obligated by the end of the federal fiscal year in September.

The most recent accounting by FutureEd at Georgetown University used data as of Dec. 31, 2023. It showed very uneven progress in spending federal K-12 Covid aid.

The national average spending rate of the 50 states and the District of Columbia was 72.3%. New Jersey was below the national average at 67.8%. When one considers that New Jersey received $6.2 billion in education funding, that means a lot of money remains to be spent in a short period of time.

Federal records show that Cape May County’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding was over $40 million.

In two years, Congress passed four broad areas of education funding through three separate funding acts, the last and largest of which was the American Rescue Plan, which federal records show accounted for $28 million in ESSER funding across Cape May County school districts.

The public has no good view at the district level of whether money has been spent, and if it has, on what was it spent, and whether school districts have to return unused funds at the end of this year. A federal dashboard on planned and executed funding boasts state annual reports from 2021 and 2022 with nothing since then.

With ESSER funding ending, it is reasonable to ask what the budget impact of the lost revenue will be.

Happenings

Sea Isle City is introducing digital beach tags via the My Beach Mobile app, offering convenience for beachgoers with smartphone usage.

Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. must find a new lawyer as his current attorney’s conflict of interest was deemed unacceptable by the judge. Troiano faces state charges related to health benefits fraud, and the change in legal representation may lead to case delays.

Cape May’s Historic Preservation Commission supported the new police station’s design. Discussions included the building’s features, and the city is pursuing state approval for a land swap to proceed with construction.

The Planning Board approved construction of 18 homes on Avalon Manor Marina’s property after objections from nearby homeowners. Concerns centered on parking and public safety, with opposition due to the number of proposed houses.

Cape May County Clerk Rita Rothberg introduced the Property Alert Service to protect residents from mortgage fraud by notifying them of recorded documents. She emphasized reporting suspicions to law enforcement and title companies, citing scam examples.

A portion of the “ghost tracks” near Sunset Beach will be removed for the Pond Creek Restoration Project, aiming to restore the creek’s tidal flow and manage flood risks.

A Rutgers poll shows over half of New Jersey residents won’t buy electric cars, with half opposing the state’s EV mandate. Concerns include charging infrastructure and economic impacts, potentially affecting 2024 elections.

A Pennsylvania deputy sheriff’s officer was arrested for possessing and distributing child pornography at his vacation residence in Wildwood. According to the affidavit of probable cause, he admitted to distributing images found on Tumblr and is suspended pending investigation.

Stone Harbor’s Administration and Finance Committee suggested no changes to the dates or fees for paid parking in the 2024 summer season, aiming for a smoother experience with the ParkMobile app.

The Cape May City Fire Department has returned to the city after using a temporary location during the construction of a new fire station.

Curtis Bashaw, a Cape May businessman and Republican, is running for Menendez’s Senate seat. He aims to bring fresh perspectives to Congress, prioritizing issues like border security and parental rights.

Clean Ocean Action organized a forum in Long Branch to discuss federal plans for offshore wind leases off New York and New Jersey. They’re concerned about the rushed 1,400-page impact statement and are urging a 90-day extension for public review.

The new owners of a high dunes property face legal action for clearing dune area to install a lawn. Both the state and borough demand restoration, stressing the importance of preserving the dune ecosystem.

Spout Off of the Week

Ocean View – I’m younger but I really like the idea of a digital beach tag. I will be purchasing a seasonal one through the mybeach app but why is Sea Isle the only town jumping on board with this great idea?

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com. 

Spout Off

Wildwood Crest – In NY City there are hundreds of "migrants" from Africa protesting because the housing and food they are given is not good enough. They say they deserve better. Their representative went in…

Read More

Lower Township – Great job by the school bus driver who got all children and herself off of the bus before it burst into flames on the GSP. Saw the smoke a half mile before we passed the scene and it was something I…

Read More

Cape May County – Us Attorney General Merrick Garland. I saw you on TV saying you noticed no decline in President Biden during his term is office. You are entitled to your opinion, that is what free speech and the 1st…

Read More

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