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Apprenticeship Ratio Requirements: A Helper or Hinderance in Job Growth?

From: Kathleen Rutherford, Executive Director, A Better Delaware

 As Delaware’s trades rebound from the pandemic and billions of dollars come to the state in federal infrastructure funds, it’s time for lawmakers to free our businesses from the strict regulations that keep them from filling jobs, including apprenticeship ratio requirements.

Apprenticeship programs train skilled workers by combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training under experienced journeymen.

Many employers in Delaware want to hire and train new apprentices but are restrained from doing so because current regulations require multiple journeymen or full-time workers to also be hired — a cost many small businesses can’t afford.

For electricians, Delaware has an apprentice-to-journeyman ratio of 1:1, then 1:3. That means a company with one journeyman may hire one apprentice, but then must hire three more journeymen before it can hire its second apprentice.

Other ratios include:


Sheet Metal Worker                                          1:4

Insulation Worker                                              1:3

Structural Metal Worker                                 1:4

Painters, Construction and Maintenance 1:3

Asbestos Worker                                               1:3

Industrial Maintenance Mechanic              1:3

Plumber/Pipefitter                                             1:3

Electrician                                                             1:3

Precision Instrument Repairer                     1:3

Glaziers                                                                   1:3

Construction Laborer                                        1:3

Dry Wall Finisher                                                1:3

Hard Tile Setter                                                   1:3

Roofer                                                                      1:2     

Sprinkler Fitter                                                    1:1

Child Care Worker                                              1:1

Elevator Constructor                                         1:1


Most trades require three or even four journeypersons for each apprentice. These ratios cripple contractors’ ability to fill the jobs that so many Delawareans desperately need.

Associated Builders and Contractors Delaware, the trade association that represents the construction industry, has requested that the secretary of labor reduce the apprentice ratio to 1:2 for all trades for 24 months. Doing that, the group argued, would allow construction companies to replenish the workers that have been lost throughout the last decade.

New Jersey and Maryland have 1:4 ratios for all trades, something Delaware’s unions and labor department have pointed to in response to the request to lower Delaware’s ratios.

Other states, like Montana, are taking action to support small businesses by reducing ratios.

In Nov. 2021, Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, reduced the apprentice to journeyman ratio 1:1 across the board. He emphasized that reducing the ratio would preserve workplace safety and training standards while also making Montana more competitive with our neighbors.

Industry leaders and experts praised the move, arguing it will especially benefit small businesses in rural areas where it is more difficult to recruit additional journeymen to supervise apprentices.

“For too long, unnecessary red tape has tied up employers looking to offer apprenticeship opportunities and build a more highly-skilled workforce,” Gianforte said at the time. “With this commonsense rule change, we can dramatically increase apprenticeship opportunities for hardworking Montanans to meet current and future workforce needs.”

Gianforte faced fierce opposition before enacting the rule change.

Critics argued it would be impossible to oversee and safely train if the ratio was decreased, despite Wyoming allowing two apprentices per journeyman, North Dakota allowing three apprentices per journeyman and Idaho allowing up to four apprentices per journeyman.

In those states, builders continue to safely build houses and staff job sites with even more flexible regulations than those enacted by Gianforte.

Because of decisions like that, Montana’s construction sector grew 12.3% between February 2020 and February 2022. Data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in March 2022 shows that 34,700 Montanans were employed in the construction sector in February, up from 30,900 in February of 2020.

In Montana and across the country, reducing ratios has proven to lower costs and enable companies to expand apprenticeship opportunities to new entrants to the trades at rates commensurate to their ability and experience.

Another reason to do it: Powerful labor unions benefit significantly from higher apprentice to journeyman ratios, while small businesses suffer.

Unions are comprised of many skilled workers across multiple jobsites and employers, giving them a larger pool of journeymen who can oversee an apprentice, making it easier for them to comply with apprentice-to-journeyman ratios than it is for small contractors who would have to hire more journeymen to gain an apprentice.

This gives unions a significant advantage when competing against small businesses in a short labor market.

Additionally, when companies are hiring, workers can still enter an apprenticeship program if they are not selected by the company due to being over their ratio limit.

Those apprentices are considered “trade extension students” and are able to attend class at night like apprentices and get credit for that, but they can’t count their on-the-job training hours which they are earning during the day and are needed to complete the programs.

Those trade extension students are in the same classes as apprentices from the companies where they work, but they don’t get the same credit for their work hours during the day because they aren’t considered apprentices.

That puts them at a career-altering disadvantage compared to their apprentice counterparts, and everybody loses. This is just another example of a simple problem that could be fixed by reducing ratios.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry needs 2.5 million workers to satisfy the demand created by federal infrastructure legislation.

Prior to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Delaware’s Department of Labor identified construction as the third fastest-growing industry throughout the next five years.

Without the infrastructure bill, the department estimated the industry would need to immediately fill 5,380 positions to meet demand. That number is significantly higher now.

One way Delaware can fill that void and maintain a competitive edge over neighboring states is by following Montana’s lead and reducing apprentice to journeyman ratios.

Doing so will be especially important as the state seeks contracts to complete more than $1.2 billion worth of infrastructure improvements authorized by the federal infrastructure bill.

Sen. Darius Brown’s committee positions reinstated

Delaware Live

State Sen. Darius Brown has been reinstated as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and member of the Senate Capital Improvement Committee.

Brown, D-Wilmington, was removed from the Judiciary Committee in May 2021 after being arrested on misdemeanor offensive touching and disorderly conduct charges.

He was removed from the Capital Improvement Committee in Nov. 2021 after a heated altercation with Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, who accused him of verbally abusing her.

He was found not guilty on all charges in Jan. 2022.

“As Pro Tempore, I removed him from these committees in the face of the allegations he faced last year, and I have now reinstated him given his acquittal in court and my belief that the terms of these sanctions have been appropriate,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark.

“I want to thank Sen. Kyle Evans Gay and Sen. Marie Pinkney for their time and dedication in filling these roles over the last year. Their service has been exemplary,” Sokola said.

Following the Nov. 2021 verbal altercation with Minor-Brown, Sokola said, “Verbal abuse is abuse, full stop, and it cannot go unpunished. In the Senate, there will be consequences for behavior unbecoming an elected official.”

A Better Delaware Announces a New Advisory Board Member

From: A Better Delaware 

WILMINGTON, Del. – Dr. Greg DeMeo, D.O. has joined as an advisory board member at A Better Delaware, a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency and accountability in state government.

Chris Kenny, Chairman and Founder of A Better Delaware, announced the addition of DeMeo to the board this past week.

“With an aging population, influx of retirees, and substantial percentage of state taxpayers’ dollars going to health care, ABD must be at the leading edge of advocating for meaningful positive change.” Kenny said. “Dr. Greg DeMeo leads one of Delaware’s top specialist practices and has been serving our state in the health care field since 1992.

Dr. DeMeo is the medical director of Christiana Care’s Labor and Delivery Department and is certified in the Da Vinci robotic surgical system and specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques. Throughout the past ten years, DeMeo has held numerous leadership positions for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He currently represents that organization at the national level where he focuses on issues related to Medicare reimbursement.

“A Better Delaware is a leading voice for free and fair competition in health care,” DeMeo said. “State policies that restrict the availability of quality health care options for those who need them all too often result is worse outcomes.”

“In joining A Better Delaware, I’m going to continue my fight for principled, sensible reforms that would offer Delawareans better health care, reduce costs and increase access,” DeMeo concluded. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the board and help turn my decades of industry experience into actionable policy for Delawareans.”

DeMeo will serve alongside advisory board members Sam Waltz, former Governor Mike Castle, and William Erhart.

Kathleen Rutherford, executive director for A Better Delaware, hailed DeMeo as “one of Delaware’s most respected authorities in the field of health care.”

“Dr. DeMeo will bring a unique perspective in the area of health care,” Rutherford said. “Our state needs real, pragmatic solutions that give Delawareans more of a say in their health. For too long, our leaders have enacted policies that strip away choice, diminish outcomes and drag our state further toward the bottom of the list. This addition to our advisory board will help us turn this ship around.”

The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Tennessee & Avenues for Reform

From: Beacon Center of Tennessee

Key Takeaways:

  • While Tennessee is generally considered a more free-market-oriented state, one area it regulates more heavily is in occupational licensing, essentially a government permission slip to do a job;
  • Tennessee has over 263 different occupational licenses, registrations, and certifications, covering 30 percent of the Tennessee workforce;
  • The economic cost of obtaining these onerous licensing regulations conservatively costs Tennessee workers over
    $279 million just to enter an occupation of their choice; and
  • Renewing their existing license costs these Tennessee workers nearly $38 million per year.

Del. Lawmaker claims Republican Bills are read less often than Democratic Bills

From: WMDT

Rep. Bryan Shupe claims republican bills are being overlooked in Delaware’s legislature.

Delaware’s legislature has a rule that all bills must be heard within 12 days of being introduced, in order to progress into committee. Shupe tells us that’s not happening and the number of bills left unread is not evenly split between both parties. He says he had his staff look at the House Administrative Committee hearings from the previous session, where they found, the republican minority had bills read 36 percent of the time compared to 86% for Democrats; which he points to as a bias from leadership.

“Rules that all 41 of us unanimously agreed on, to have every single bill heard in respective their committees are not being followed and its following political lines,” Rep. Shupe said.

In response, Shupe says next session he’ll introduce a measure on the first day of the session as an amendment to the rules that would require all bills to be introduced if they aren’t read in the 12-day window. He tells us he understands why in the past not all bills were read, as a result of a scheduling conflict, bills being combined with others, but he says the gap needs to close between the read rate of republican and democrat bills.

“Those percentages through minority and majority bill should be a lot closer than 86 to 38 percent they should be closer,” Shupe said adding “let them get heard and go through the process and if they die in committee that’s the nature of these things but to not have them heard is frustrating.”

The Delaware House Majority declined to comment on the numbers referenced by Shupe, or his claim of bias.

Delaware’s legislature does have a process to have an unread bill be reintroduced, but such a move would require a “written request of the majority of the members elected to the House, be reported to the House for a decision as to its further disposal,” according to House Resolution 3 passed in 2021, which could prove challenging for a bill introduced by a minority party.  

Washington state ranked No. 14 for economic development transparency

From: The Center Square

Washington state ranked 14th in the country among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of economic development transparency, according to a new report from Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, a public policy resource center.

Washington received credit for the transparency of its programs exempting data centers from paying sales and use taxes on electricity, computers, building materials, and software. On a scale of 0 to 100, Washington scored 38 points for its data center sales and use tax exemption. Washington scored 38 points on its aerospace preproduction expenditures B&O tax, and 47 points for its Job Skills Program.

The Evergreen state was dinged for having no recipient data online regarding refundable or transferable tax credits to film and/or television productions, scoring zero points in that category.

“The Washington Department of Revenue posts basic recipient-level data (company names, subsidy payments, and job/wage data) on dozens of tax-based subsidies,” the report said. “On the good side, the data is (mostly) easy to access and use.”

Washington ranked 30.8 overall on a 100-point scoring system, which is higher than the national average of 22. That’s a drop of three points for Washington since a similar Good Jobs First study in 2014.

Based on evaluating 250 major state-level economic development programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Good Jobs First found that 154 of them disclose which companies receive public support, while 96 do not. Good Jobs First found that 48 states and the District of Columbia provide some degree of recipient disclosure.

“To be sure, transparency is not the same as effectiveness or accountability,” the report notes. “Nor do we have the means here to verify the accuracy of what states post online. But without company specific, deal-specific disclosure, it’s difficult for the public to get at even the most basic return on investment, accountability or equity questions.”

The report goes on to ask, “Which companies are recipients? What kinds of companies are they? How much money did they receive? Are they delivering on the number of jobs promised? Constituents deserve to have answers to these questions. Without them, they cannot have an informed debate and policymakers cannot properly monitor programs or deals.”

Nevada was the top-ranked state on the list. Its 63.6-point score was a dozen points better than runner-up Connecticut (51.6 points). Illinois’ 46.4 points earned it third place on the list.

Alabama and Georgia brought up the rear in scoring zero points each.

Darby ordinance would make Wilm employers pay for shift changes

From: Delaware Live

Business leaders are lining up in opposition to a proposed ordinance in Wilmington that would require service industry employers to provide two-weeks notice of work schedules and compensate employees when changes occur.

The measure, sponsored by Council Member Shané Darby, D-District 2, aims to provide more schedule stability for hourly workers at retail, hospitality and foodservice establishments with 250 employees or more and franchises with less than 250 employees.

The proposed ordinance would allow workers to decline shifts not included in a posted work schedule or shifts that do not provide at least 9 hours of rest after a previous shift.

If asked to work shifts that don’t allow for 9 hours of rest, employers would be required to pay workers an extra $40, in addition to their regular compensation.

“The reason why I’m doing this is because I care about working-class people, especially the most vulnerable groups,” Darby said. “I think that Wilmington could be the catalyst to what it looks like to protect workers, protect workers’ rights, and to make sure that people are able to work and live.”

Council Member James Spadola, R-At Large, called the proposal “a solution in search of a problem.”

He said businesses unable to keep up with the regulatory burdens imposed by the city can easily open shop elsewhere.

The proposed rules could also hurt workers, opponents say.

“This potential ordinance puts part-time workers under attack,” said Carrie Leishman, president and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association. “This is a counterproductive and dangerous ordinance at a time where Delaware restaurants still have 4,500 open positions.”

Under the bill, for each employer-initiated change to a posted work schedule, employers must pay an employee “predictability pay” at the following rates, in addition to the employee’s regular pay for hours actually worked by the employee:

  • 1 hour of predictability pay when the covered employer adds time to a work shift or changes the date or time or location of a work shift, with no loss of hours.
  • 1/2 hour of predictability pay for any scheduled hours the employee does not work for the following reasons:
    • Hours are subtracted from a regular or on-call shift, or
    • A regular or on-call shift is canceled.

The bill also requires employers to offer shifts to existing employees and pay any subsequent penalties before offering the shift to contractors or temporary employees.

“We’re trying to tackle the big dogs first and then kind of look at the conversation around what it looks like to have fair legislation for small and local businesses,” Darby told Delaware LIVE News.

Darby said she’s not concerned that the ordinance could hurt businesses struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the pandemic.

“If we were talking about a small local business then I might say ‘okay, I can look at that,’ but not for big businesses like the Marriott or the DoubleTree,” she said. “I don’t think the hotel industry has been hit that hard due to the pandemic. I’ll have to look at the data and research but people have been traveling – I don’t think they have been impacted that much.”

Data shared during a city budget hearing Monday shows the city’s lodging tax revenues are still below pre-pandemic levels.

The Restaurant Association’s Leishman called the proposal “politically motivated.”

She said it’s “fueled by the campaign donations of labor unions as a way to boost up dwindling union participation and pit small businesses against employees” by reducing part-time and flexible job opportunities.

Asked who she thinks might oppose the legislation, Darby laughed then responded: “Hospitality, retail and foodservice establishments that employ 250 employees or more.”

She emphasized that the law would apply to franchised businesses that employ less than 250 employees in city limits.

“You can be a franchise in Wilmington and only hire 20 or 30 people, but if you’re a part of a bigger network like McDonald’s, then you are subject to this legislation.”

Bob Older, president of the Delaware Small Business Chamber, said including franchisees like hotels and fast food restaurants in the bill is “irresponsible and uneducated.”

“You’re telling me that a Dunkin’ Donuts with 10 employees must abide by this regulation but a bakery with 20 employees that’s next door to them doesn’t,” Older asked. “Just because you’re a franchise doesn’t mean that you’re anything more than a small business.”

He said despite small businesses already being short-staffed and under pressure from external factors like inflation and supply chain disruptions, Delaware’s lawmakers think now is the right time to impose even more costly burdens on businesses.

“With this ordinance, you’ll be penalizing businesses twice,” he continued. “If somebody doesn’t show up to work, they call somebody in and change the schedule – they’re gonna have to compensate that person even more. That’s not to mention the worker who called out.”

Older predicts that because of legislation like the fair workweek ordinance, companies are going to continue resorting to automation, something he said is “unfortunate.”

Darby sees it differently. The bill, she said, isn’t meant to be a burden on businesses, but rather an extra layer of protection for workers who are vulnerable and often taken advantage of by their wealthy employers.

Leishman believes the measure would result in “a mountain of red tape” and cost jobs for those who rely on their paychecks the most.

Restaurants, she argued, offer flexible scheduling opportunities which workers embrace, specifically relating to first-time jobs and second-chance opportunities in downtown Wilmington where the 6.2% unemployment rate far exceeds the state’s unemployment rate of 4.5%.

Leishman believes the measure discourages employers from offering extra shifts on short notice.

“Restaurants are an industry of choice and employees can be free to pick up shifts that so often meet the needs of their financial circumstances,” she said.

Many people who work in hospitality are putting themselves through school or have full-time jobs and careers elsewhere, but need extra money for personal reasons, she said.

Leishman pointed to San Francisco, the first city to embrace “fair workweek” laws. The result, she said, has been predictable.

survey conducted by Lloyd Corder of Corcom Inc. found that 20% of affected businesses cut back on the number of part-time hires, and a similar number were scheduling fewer employees per shift.

More than one-third of affected employers began offering less schedule flexibility as a consequence of “fair workweek” laws, the survey found.

“There is nothing ‘fair’ in ‘fair scheduling’ for the employer and employee,” Leishman concluded.

Darby said employees will be responsible for reporting violations of the law to a labor commission that the bill would create. In the future, she hopes the city will allocate funds to hire an investigator to look into complaints.

Although it creates a labor commission, the bill wouldn’t cost any money, she said.

Spadola cast doubt on that claim.

“I would disagree that there’s no fiscal impact because every hour of work our city employees dedicate to this will cost the city money,” Spadola said.

“Throughout the countless civic association meetings I’ve attended in every area of the city, not one person has ever brought this up as a problem, nor has anybody reached out to me about it as a problem, nor has anybody ever spoken about it during public comment in a council meeting, as far as I know.”

In addition to hurting businesses and workers, Spadola feels the bill will hurt the city’s bottom line.

“The city needs funding to pay for city employees, for the services that the city provides, for firefighters, police, everything,” he said. “One of the ways the city raises those funds is through wage taxes, and so at a time when we need more businesses to come in here and boost up our wage tax, we can’t be passing unfriendly ordinances that will make them go elsewhere.”

Spadola plans to vote against the bill and he’s hoping others do too.

“I wish I could say it doesn’t stand a chance,” he said. “I don’t think it will pass, but if it did, I would actively encourage the mayor to veto it because I don’t think the city could stand for this at this time.”

Bob Chadwick, president of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, said his group opposes the proposed ordinance because employment law is already regulated at the state and federal level.

In a state the size of Delaware, two levels of government oversight are sufficient, Chadwick said.

“The legislation would add unnecessary burdens for employers, remove their ability to be flexible in running their businesses, increase costs by requiring them to pay employees for canceled shifts, and unreasonably interfere in their relationships with their employees, many of whom went into the retail, hospitality or food service industries for the scheduling flexibility,” he continued.

“The ordinance sends the wrong message to existing and prospective Wilmington employers. Employers in the City of Wilmington are already subject to a wage tax and a head tax, and legislation such as this which would increase costs, impose burdensome regulation, and limit flexibility will make it act as a disincentive to open or maintain businesses within the city.”

Efforts to reach the Delaware Food Industry Council, the group that represents grocery stores and pharmacies, were unsuccessful.

Spokespeople for Mayor Mike Purzycki and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce said they weren’t prepared to comment Monday.

Darby said she hasn’t reached out to any of the state’s chambers of commerce to get a sense for how the bill would impact businesses in the city.

“That might be a good entity to reach out to just to see if they were supportive or not,” she said. “It wouldn’t change the legislation, but that would be good to just know.”

Op-Ed: Costs of occupational licensing fall heaviest on vulnerable Tennesseans

From: The Center Square

When professions utilize occupational licensing to impose unnecessarily burdensome requirements and fees to deny entry to a profession, occupational choice and economic opportunity are drastically limited in the Volunteer State.

Sadly, these costs fall the hardest on the most vulnerable populations.

The evidence shows occupational licensing makes it harder to obtain certain jobs, especially for minority and low-income residents. Education, experience, and financial costs tend to be a greater burden for underserved populations because of a lack of access to quality formal education and financial resources. And, by restricting occupational choice, licensing can serve to deny economic opportunity to minority and low-income residents.

Historically, licensing laws were pursued in some cases with the harmful intent of denying economic opportunity to African Americans. This was certainly true for some licensed professions in Tennessee, such as barbers.

An archival search of newspapers could not locate a single instance of consumer harm from unlicensed barbers before the first major attempts to license the profession in Nashville in 1903. In fact, the Tennessean asked at that time, “Is there sound reason for the enactment of a barbers’ licensing law?”

The purpose, however, was clear to African American barbers who strongly opposed the licensing laws. They saw that the effect of licensing would put them out of business. Barber exams in Chattanooga by the 1940s, for instance, accomplished this through an exam that required prospects to needlessly memorize barber terms in Latin giving a distinct advantage to those with access to financial resources and quality education.

This trend continues today as licensing laws still mau create discriminatory outcomes. For example, a recent study in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found racism is still “common in midwifery education, professional organizations, and clinical practices.”

Occupational licensing also can harm minority and low-income residents by pricing services beyond their ability to pay. Licensing in a wide range of industries, including barbers, electricians and plumbers, decreases the availability and quality of these services for low-income residents. The increased cost of service forces these residents to choose between going without the service, recklessly performing the service themselves, or to hire someone under the table.

Our new study, The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Tennessee, offers several avenues of reform for policymakers looking to empower our most vulnerable populations.

Policymakers should eliminate any occupational licensing requirements with no credible and documented threat to consumer safety. Even when plausible harm exists, policymakers should take into consideration whether other mechanisms, such as certification, private litigation, insurance or warranties, could assure consumers of quality without empowering industries to restrict occupational mobility and economic opportunity for the least advantaged.

Tennessee policymakers can best serve our most vulnerable populations by thoroughly reviewing and reforming Tennessee’s licensure laws to reduce the imposed burden on all residents.

States Whose Unemployment Rates Are Bouncing Back Most

From: Wallet Hub

March’s jobs report showed a slowdown in growth. The economy gained 431,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, compared to 750,000 the previous month. In March, there were notable gains in sectors including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing.

Now, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 3.6%, which is still slightly higher than it was before the pandemic but is far lower than the nearly historic high of 14.7% in April 2020. This overall drop can be attributed largely to a combination of vaccinations and states removing restrictions. It will take more time for us to reduce the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic levels than it did for the virus to reverse over a decade of job growth, though.

In order to identify the states whose unemployment rates are bouncing back most, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on six key metrics that compare unemployment rate statistics from the latest month for which data is available (March 2022) to key dates in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Main Findings

State Rank
Nebraska 1
Indiana 2
Montana 3
Utah 4
Kansas 5
Minnesota 6
New Hampshire 7
Oklahoma 8
Arizona 9
Alabama 10
South Dakota 11
Idaho 12
Arkansas 13
Wisconsin 14
Virginia 15
Vermont 16
West Virginia 17
Tennessee 18
Rhode Island 19
Florida 20
Wyoming 21
Georgia 22
North Carolina 23
North Dakota 24
Mississippi 25
Louisiana 26
Missouri 27
Iowa 28
South Carolina 29
Oregon 30
Ohio 31
Colorado 32
Washington 33
Kentucky 34
Maine 35
New Jersey 36
Michigan 37
Nevada 38
Pennsylvania 39
Alaska 40
New York 41
Texas 42
Illinois 43
Connecticut 44
Delaware 45
California 46
Massachusetts 47
Maryland 48
New Mexico 49
Hawaii 50
District of Columbia 51
Overall Rank  State Unemployment Rate (March 2022)  Change in Unemployment (March 2022 vs March 2019)  Change in Unemployment (March 2022 vs January 2020)  Change in Unemployment (March 2022 vs March 2020)  Change in Unemployment (March 2022 vs March 2021)  Not Seasonally Adjusted Continued Claims (March 2022 vs March 2019) 
1 Nebraska 2.0% -31.9% -33.6% -53.5% -23.2% -37.8%
2 Indiana 2.2% -35.7% -36.8% -37.1% -48.9% 11.8%
3 Montana 2.3% -30.8% -35.6% -32.8% -34.0% -39.0%
4 Utah 2.0% -21.8% -19.8% -19.6% -33.5% -31.2%
5 Kansas 2.5% -21.7% -21.0% -19.8% -29.1% -51.9%
6 Minnesota 2.5% -27.7% -36.5% -40.6% -31.8% -6.3%
7 New Hampshire 2.5% -5.6% -9.9% -8.6% -36.5% -41.7%
8 Oklahoma 2.7% -12.9% -14.0% -16.3% -43.2% -16.1%
9 Arizona 3.3% -29.5% -32.4% -33.9% -42.7% -32.0%
10 Alabama 2.9% -16.0% -12.8% -19.2% -20.6% -73.7%
11 South Dakota 2.5% -10.4% -5.2% -0.2% -21.2% -30.2%
12 Idaho 2.7% -3.5% -7.3% -3.0% -30.5% -34.3%
13 Arkansas 3.1% -11.8% -14.0% -39.5% -33.1% -29.6%
14 Wisconsin 2.8% -7.4% -8.0% -1.1% -34.8% -24.4%
15 Virginia 3.0% -0.3% 11.0% 1.6% -31.5% -69.2%
16 Vermont 2.7% 16.1% -3.1% -7.8% -30.0% -35.0%
17 West Virginia 3.7% -24.4% -28.7% -29.3% -34.4% -45.1%
18 Tennessee 3.2% -3.9% -8.6% -9.3% -32.6% -29.7%
19 Rhode Island 3.4% -2.0% -5.9% -5.4% -42.6% -20.7%
20 Florida 3.2% -2.8% 17.7% -25.7% -37.8% -6.9%
21 Wyoming 3.4% -0.4% -28.9% -35.5% -31.4% -7.1%
22 Georgia 3.1% -13.9% -9.8% -13.8% -28.0% 23.1%
23 North Carolina 3.5% -6.0% -5.8% -4.6% -31.3% -30.7%
24 North Dakota 2.9% 25.5% 36.6% 11.3% -32.6% -22.2%
25 Mississippi 4.2% -21.7% -25.1% -28.0% -34.0% -39.8%
26 Louisiana 4.2% -8.0% -19.3% -39.1% -30.6% -23.5%
27 Missouri 3.6% 16.2% 9.3% 2.3% -25.7% -39.7%
28 Iowa 3.3% 27.6% 21.8% 24.8% -24.9% -40.3%
29 South Carolina 3.4% 9.8% 26.3% 15.3% -20.3% -36.1%
30 Oregon 3.8% 0.6% 16.4% 14.6% -36.3% -21.4%
31 Ohio 4.1% -0.3% -10.6% -15.2% -27.5% -26.9%
32 Colorado 3.7% 41.9% 40.5% -23.1% -38.2% -35.9%
33 Washington 4.2% -6.7% 8.3% -20.5% -26.7% -29.1%
34 Kentucky 4.0% -2.5% -1.8% -2.3% -13.0% -48.0%
35 Maine 3.6% 29.8% 22.4% 31.4% -23.8% -13.9%
36 New Jersey 4.2% 27.3% 15.1% 25.2% -40.1% -14.6%
37 Michigan 4.4% 4.5% 14.0% 16.4% -27.6% -27.1%
38 Nevada 5.0% 12.7% 28.6% -38.8% -46.1% -21.1%
39 Pennsylvania 4.9% 8.6% -0.4% -7.3% -31.3% -34.7%
40 Alaska 5.0% -8.2% -0.6% 0.0% -26.7% -33.9%
41 New York 4.6% 15.2% 11.6% 12.9% -43.1% 7.4%
42 Texas 4.4% 29.9% 32.1% -9.7% -29.8% -15.7%
43 Illinois 4.7% 5.0% 25.0% -6.4% -29.4% -12.7%
44 Connecticut 4.6% 24.4% 27.8% 30.8% -33.2% -38.5%
45 Delaware 4.5% 28.9% 27.8% -7.3% -20.8% -33.2%
46 California 4.9% 15.8% 16.6% -11.4% -41.0% 0.8%
47 Massachusetts 4.3% 33.4% 42.4% 47.5% -32.7% -16.6%
48 Maryland 4.6% 41.0% 9.5% 4.7% -17.3% -27.9%
49 New Mexico 5.3% 2.6% -0.9% -12.9% -25.9% -8.1%
50 Hawaii 4.1% 40.1% 94.3% 83.0% -37.2% -1.0%
51 District of Columbia 6.0% -0.8% 7.6% 3.2% -8.0% -27.5%


Delaware needs a “tax-free carbon holiday” to review RGGI’s wasteful program

From: Caesar Rodney Institute

You may not be aware that Delaware has a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In 2009 power companies were required to start buying allowances from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program to emit carbon dioxide. The allowance cost was added to electric bills but was hidden from customers.

So far, under the RGGI program, Delaware has received $187 million in revenue, and as much as $100 million may be sitting unspent. The state program intended to reduce emissions may actually be increasing emissions globally.

We recommend a legislatively mandated one-year RGGI “tax-free carbon holiday” that would include a thorough review of the program and how the tax revenue is allocated.

In 2016 Delaware generated 78% of its electric demand in-state, but in 2021 we were down to 36%. We may be close to zero in-state generation as early as 2024. That means lost jobs, lost state and local tax revenues, higher electric rates, and possibly lower power reliability.

Low use of power plants can double emissions (see graph below), and longer transmission lines add another 10% to emissions. 



Our peer-reviewed study comparing RGGI states to non-RGGI states with otherwise similar energy policies shows that RGGI doesn’t work to reduce emissions. 

We estimate RGGI added 357,000 tons of CO2 per year to global emissions in 2021. At first, the allowances only cost a few dollars per ton, and electricity wholesale prices were higher than today.

However, the latest auction price was $13.50 a ton, and that means Delaware natural gas power plants have to bid 15% higher into the regional grid than utilities in non-RGGI states to cover the tax, so they lose bids and don’t generate as much power.

Delaware’s lone emitting coal-powered plant in Millsboro must bid 34% higher prices as it emits over twice as much per unit of power as natural gas. NRG Energy has announced a plan to close the facility this year as it only operates about 15% of the time and can’t cover the overhead.

The multistate RGGI manager forecasts electric rates rising by 40% by 2030 as higher allowance prices influence wholesale power prices even in non-RGGI states and importing our power may increase costs by another 5% to cover the average line losses and congestion charges based on PJM data.

Legislation requires 65% of RGGI revenue to go to the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (DESEU), a private non-profit that provides grants for energy efficiency projects.  

Their budget and audit reports show they spend only about $7 to $8 million a year on program grants and administrative costs. Their reports show only about 4,000 tons of annualized CO2 emissions savings or a cost of about $2,000/ton.

Emission savings claims are not backed by the audit that matters; before and after project electric and gas meter readings, so the claimed savings are doubtful.

RGGI revenue to the DESEU was $24 million in 2021 and should rise to $34 million in 2022. The DESEU has been accumulating unspent funds for over a decade and likely had $73 million by the end of 2021, and will be close to $100 million by the end of 2022, or about 13 years of expenses.

They have been giving loans to boost interest revenue and minimize their stash of cash. Still, there is no evidence that the projects they have financed couldn’t have been borrowed elsewhere.

Clearly, it is time to stop sending money automatically to the DESEU. They could still receive Grant-in-Aide grants from the state as many other private nonprofits do.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) receives 35% of the RGGI revenue. 

Delaware’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistant Program receives 5% to help pay utility bills. The DNREC’s low-income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) receives 10% or almost $4 million in 2021. DNREC can spend the balance of about $7 million in 2021, supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

A DNREC website lists WAP projects completed by date. 

It appears the WAP program has essentially closed for the last two pandemic years. Past annual reports from the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council suggest DNREC may only be spending $2.5 million a year on WAP and about $3.5 million on other projects from the RGGI funds.

DNREC has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request for the recent spending history of RGGI funds or the total amount of unspent RGGI funds they have accumulated. Extrapolating from past reports, DNREC may have $20 to $25 million in unspent RGGI funds and would not suffer from a RGGI “tax-free carbon holiday.”

The US Energy Information Administration just released survey results and found that 25 million American families (27%) reported forgoing basic necessities to pay energy bills sometime in 2020, while 7 million of those families reported doing so every month. 

With inflation raging and energy costs hurting the poor and middle class, a RGGI “tax-free carbon holiday” makes sense. It makes even more sense to reconsider the entire RGGI program and its allocation of RGGI revenues. We note that New Hampshire returns RGGI revenue to electric customers, and Connecticut sends all RGGI revenue to its General Fund.