Missouri's unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in nearly four years - good news for incumbent Jay Nixon with the election three weeks away.
The state Department of Economic Development announced this morning that the rate is 6.9 percent - down three-tenths of a point from August, and nearly three points below its recession-era peak in August of 2009.
The state says companies added 2,500 jobs in September, bringing the total number of new jobs this year to 24,700.
Illinois is getting $2.7 million to strengthen its efforts to fight waste and fraud in unemployment claims.
The grant from the U.S. Labor Department will help beef up anti-fraud programs launched in the past year.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it has begun garnishing tax returns of unemployment cheats, working more closely with the attorney general and holding business leaders personally liable for misstating company obligations.
The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.
The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.
Illinois Congressional candidate Jason Plummer points to the uncertainty of the Metro East levee situation as a large cause of the area’s high unemployment rate.
The Republican candidate says federal regulators are getting in the way of bipartisan work by local officials. The Federal Emergency Management Agency alleges the area should be deemed a “hazard zone.” If that happens, the value of houses would reportedly plummet. Plummer said the number one complaint he hears is the lack of certainty.
Illinois' unemployment rate increased again in July with the loss of thousands of government and hospitality jobs.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that the July unemployment rate hit 8.9 percent. That's up from 8.7 percent in June and was the second straight increase after nine months of steady decreases.
Department Director Jay Rowell says the increase was expected since national unemployment continues to rise. Rowell adds that declines in government employment are likely to continue.
Missouri officials say state payrolls declined by 4,000 jobs in June while unemployment simultaneously decreased 7.1 percent. Department of Economic Development officials say much of the decline in Missouri non-farm payrolls came in the local government sector, which shed 3,100 jobs in June.
The state unemployment rate has declined or held steady each month since June 2011. The jobless rate last month is the lowest in Missouri since December 2008.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it has started checking the roll of people receiving unemployment benefits for those who might be ineligible because they're in jail.
Spokesman Greg Rivara says the department found 420 people receiving benefits who were behind bars sometime during the first two weeks of the review. Now the department will check to see if they might have been only briefly locked up and were still eligible or if they really weren't available to work. Availability to work is a key part of the criteria to determine unemployment eligibility.