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Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A judge in Arkansas ruled Wednesday that the state must resume pandemic unemployment benefits after Gov. Asa Hutchinson halted them, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: The decision could impact 69,000 jobless workers in Arkansas who lost their additional jobless benefits on June 26, AP notes.

  • Arkansas is now the third state, following Indiana and Maryland, where a judge has blocked cuts to unemployment aid, per CBS News.

The big picture: Judge Herbert Wright on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction, ordering unemployment benefits must be restored.

  • Hutchinson's decision was followed by lawsuit filed on behalf of five Arkansas workers who have struggled to pay for essentials such as food and rent since the benefits ended.
  • “The court has serious doubts that the Governor and the Director of Workforce Services were acting within the scope of their duties, as these decisions would normally be the subject of legislation from the General Assembly,” Wright wrote, per AP.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 2, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on workforce development in Northwest Arkansas

On Tuesday, November 2nd, Axios Local correspondent Alex Golden discussed how local investments, schools and partnerships are accelerating workforce growth in Northwest Arkansas, featuring NorthWest Arkansas Community College president Evelyn Jorgenson and Excellerate Foundation CEO Jeff Webster.

Evelyn Jorgenson highlighted how community colleges can design programs to equip students for specific careers, efforts to accommodate adult learners hoping to reskill through a new degree, and what she hopes future workforce development programs will look like.

  • On preparing students for jobs relevant to the community: “We also know that community college students here...over 90% of the graduates desire to stay and will stay in Northwest Arkansas. We think that is significant because it means that the people who are accepting jobs...are more likely to stay in the area and continue in employment.”
  • On developing programs that respond to local employment shortages: “There’s a lot of employment needed in this area, and for Northwest Arkansas, that includes computer support, specialized web developers...that’s part of the reason why we are ramping up the number of programs that we offer related to those high tech needs for the area.”

Jeff Webster illustrated how to determine what jobs are most needed in the local area, how community members can support workforce development in their region, and financial resources that expand access to up-skilling programs.

  • On the need for better paying jobs in the area: “There’s a big part of our population that don’t have a lot of disposable income, could use a better paying job, but for whatever reason in life, they may not have had the same types of opportunities as other people in the area...they’ve got the intellect, the perseverance, the drive to take on a better paying job, they just need some help that maybe others of us have had through our families, et cetera.”
  • On the need for strategic plans for workforce development: “It’s pretty well known for an emerging country or nation that wants to get ahead, the key to that oftentimes is better skills for their constituents. So as a state, we want to continue to move forward.”

Axios VP of Growth Mia Vallo hosted a View from the Top segment with Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program director Robert Burns, who explained how local workforce development programs and re-skilling initiatives help people respond to the evolving job market.

  • “We have a significant need for everything from folks in the medical field, to technology, to hospitality, and there’s a need growing across the region for those types of skills among many skills that are needed. It’s ensuring that local systems support the communities that need to get up-skilled, that the institutions here can afford individuals that opportunity, and that the local system has the type of training needed to be able to respond to those areas.”

Thank you Walton Family Foundation for sponsoring this event.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.

19 mins ago - World

Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.

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