Missouri’s unemployment level lowest in nearly a decade

Could be bad news for those unemployed

By State Capitol Bureau Staff

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s Department of Economic Development reported the state’s unemployment rate for September fell to the lowest level since August 2007.

While good news for those who have found work, it poses a potential loss for unemployed Missourians under a new law that will take effect in January.

The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent of those seeking jobs, according to the report. The department reported that the greatest job growth was in art, entertainment and recreation with 2,100 jobs in September.

But a low unemployment rate could have a downside for those who remain unemployed.

Earlier this fall, the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that will cut unemployment compensation for those out of work during periods of high employment.

When the law takes effect in January, unemployment compensation coverage would fall from 20 weeks of unemployment to 13 weeks if the current high-employment figures continue. Supporters argue that the cut in benefits will provide an incentive for the unemployed to find work when jobs are available.

But the new law faces a legal challenge now filed in court. Gov. Jay Nixon contends the law is invalid because the Legislature did not follow what he argues is a constitutional requirement that the veto override vote by the House and Senate be taken in the same session.

The House voted to override the veto in the spring during the regular session. But Senate Republican leaders decided not to stop a Democratic filibuster in the closing days of the regular session that had blocked any significant legislative action — including the final override vote on the cut in unemployment compensation.

Instead, Senate Republicans waited until the fall veto session in September for the override vote.

Shortly after the veto session, Nixon was non-committal as to whether he would implement the law. Later, however, his administration said they will implement the provisions when the law takes effect Jan. 1.

* Get the new law, HB 150 [