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CHICAGO (AP) - State officials say unemployment in Illinois dropped in March to 8.4 percent. That's its lowest level since 2009.
 
   The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that March unemployment was down from 8.7 percent in February. But the department noted that new-job creation was still down for the month by about 3,200 jobs. That's a drop of less than 1 percent.
 
   Department Director Jay Rowell called the report a sign of "significant progress."
 
   Illinois continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The federal government said earlier this month that the March unemployment rate for the nation was 6.7 percent.
 
   Illinois' jobless rate hasn't been as low as 8.4 percent since January 2009.
 
   Leisure and hospitality employers led March's improvement. They added a net 4,300 jobs.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bill Brady says he was "insensitive" when he said out-of-work people don't want jobs because they enjoy collecting unemployment benefits.
 
The state senator from Bloomington told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register Wednesday he "didn't take into consideration there are a number of people out there looking for jobs who don't want to be on unemployment."
 
During a GOP gubernatorial debate Tuesday in Naperville Brady said unemployment benefits should be cut. He said Illinois provides out-of-work residents larger and longer benefits than most states.
 
He also said business leaders tell him they have trouble rehiring former workers because they are enjoying collecting unemployment insurance.
 
Brady is seeking the GOP nomination against state Sen. Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner, and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon says Missouri employers could save $186 million in federal taxes after a revised projection indicates money borrowed to pay jobless benefits will be repaid early.
   The state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund became insolvent in February 2009 during the economic downturn. Missouri borrowed from the federal government, and businesses pay a surcharge to repay the debt.
   Nixon said Tuesday the U.S. Department of Labor revised its projection for when Missouri would pay off the loan. Now, the state is expected to repay it in November instead of May 2015. Nixon says that would reduce business's federal unemployment tax by $84 per worker.
 
Published in Local News
   WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a million Americans lost their unemployment benefits late last month, when a temporary federal program expired. Congress is debating whether to restore the aid for three more months.
 
   A bill to do so cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. But final passage remains unclear. Democrats say extending the aid would boost hiring and economic growth. But many Republicans say the benefits discourage the unemployed from seeking work and would widen the federal budget gap.
 
Some questions and answers about what's at stake for the U.S. economy:
 
Q. Who's affected?
 
A. Nearly 1.4 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months. No longer can people continue to receive checks longer than that. Hundreds of thousands of others will lose their benefits in coming weeks, when they, too, will max out on the six months of unemployment benefits that most states provide.
 
Q. What did the expired program provide?
 
A. Starting at the end of 2008, it gave unemployment payments to people who had exhausted their state benefits. In some cases, people were able to collect aid for nearly two years.
 
Q. Why have some Americans needed benefits for so long?
 
A. Mainly because the job market has remained weak even though the Great Recession officially ended more than 4½ years ago. Many Americans have been unemployed for well beyond six months. More than 5 million jobs were shed in 2009 alone. The national unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent to 7 percent. But of the 10.3 million people who are still unemployed, nearly half have been without a job for more than six months, according to the Labor Department.
 
Q. Do extended benefits help the economy?
 
A. Many economists say they do. Unemployment checks help cover the rent, groceries and gasoline for millions of financially squeezed Americans, according to congressional Democrats. It boosts consumer spending and reduces dependence on other government welfare programs. All that lifts the economy slightly. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in December that continuing the benefits for a full year would add 200,000 jobs and 0.2 percentage points to economic growth in 2014. To put that in context: The economy added an average of fewer than 200,000 jobs a month during 2013. That said, the economic benefit of a three-month extension would be much less.
 
Q. What about critics who argue that these benefits, in effect, pay people not to work?
 
A. Not quite. To receive benefits, an unemployed person is supposed to actively look for work. And supporters note that the checks average $256 a week, which still keeps things pretty close to the poverty line. Congress has renewed the extended benefits each year. But unlike previous yearlong extensions of the emergency benefits, this continuation would be for just three months.
 
Q. What's the cost to taxpayers?
 
A. Extending the benefits for three months would cost $6.4 billion. Most congressional Republicans don't want that sum tacked onto the budget deficit. So they plan to negotiate for additional spending cuts.
 
Q. What happens to people when they lose their unemployment benefits?
 
A. Many basically drop out of the economy. Some apply for Social Security disability benefits to get by, according to academic research. Because of changes to its system, North Carolina began cutting unemployment aid in July. The state's unemployment rate dropped from 8.8 percent in June to 7.4 percent in November. But that's not because lots of people suddenly found jobs. Since they were no longer receiving benefits, many discouraged workers gave up their search and were no longer counted as unemployed. So the state's unemployment rate fell for the wrong reason.
 
Q. But critics say extended unemployment benefits can actually hurt the economy. Why?
 
A. The argument is that extended benefits keep the unemployed on the sidelines, waiting for that perfect job that almost never materializes. Research shows that many employers ignore jobseekers with gaps of more than six months in their resume. When people are out of work that long, their skills start to erode, as does their earning potential, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director who has advised Republicans. He calls the program "a mixed blessing." Holtz-Eakin notes that unemployment benefits were created during the Great Depression to address temporary layoffs. It was never intended to be a job re-training or anti-poverty program, he says.
Published in National News
CHICAGO (AP) - Unemployment dropped in Illinois in November to 8.7 percent. It was the third straight monthly decrease but Illinois' unemployment rate remains one of the highest nationally.
 
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that the addition of a net 10,300 private-sector jobs helped push unemployment down by two-tenths of a percent in November. The federal government said earlier this month that national unemployment dropped to 7 percent in November from 7.3 percent a month earlier.
 
According the monthly Illinois report, the state added 6,100 construction jobs in November and 6,700 jobs among trade, transportation and utility companies.
 
But the state's manufacturers cut payrolls by a net 10,300 jobs. And government employers cut 4,400 jobs.
 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 22 August 2013 17:34

Unemployment drops in metro east in July

CHICAGO (AP) - Unemployment fell in seven of Illinois' 12 metro areas in July. But some of the increases were sharp and driven by manufacturing declines.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that unemployment dropped in areas that included Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and the Metro East near St. Louis. The last of those three saw a steep drop, from 9.6 percent in July 2012 to 8.6 percent.

But some areas dependent on manufacturing experienced large increases. Unemployment jumped from 8 percent to 9.4 percent in Peoria, where Caterpillar Inc. has its headquarters. The company has cut employees as demand drops. Some of those layoffs have been in Decatur, where unemployment rose to 13.2 percent from 11.3 in 2012.

Illinois had the second-highest July unemployment rate in the country at 9.2 percent.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's unemployment rate edged up slightly even though businesses added thousands of jobs in June.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development said Tuesday that employer payrolls grew by 12,800 jobs in June, compared with the previous month.

Despite that growth, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also inched up by one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.9 percent in June.

The largest job growth occurred in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 5,400 jobs. An additional 4,700 jobs were added in retail and wholesale trade, and 2,000 jobs were added in durable goods manufacturing.

 

Published in Local News
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 15:00

St. Louis metro unemployment rate drops

Unemployment is trending down in the St. Louis area.

The unemployment rate in the metro area sits at 7% in May--that is down from the level last year. The local unemployment rate is also lower than the national level of 7.3 percent.

The St. Louis workforce now sits just a bit above 1.3 million.

 

Published in Local News

The jobless rates in Missouri and Illinois are moving in opposite directions.

Despite adding 4,600 jobs in May, Missouri's rate climbed to 6.8 percent from 6.6 percent in April. For the first time in several months, the government sector added jobs.

In Illinois, the unemployment rate fell in May to 9.1 percent. It was the second straight monthly drop after a series of increases earlier this year. State officials says that May's decrease was due in part to gains in construction employment.

Illinois' jobless rate still remains much higher than the 7.6 nationwide unemployment rate for May that was reported earlier this month.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Legislation awaiting action by Gov. Jay Nixon seeks to comply with federal mandates for Missouri's unemployment benefits system.

The measure also could make it more difficult for workers to receive jobless benefits if they are let go after an unapproved absence or if they knowingly violate a company rule.

The legislation would broaden the definition of what constitutes "misconduct." Jobless benefits can be denied to workers who lose their position because of misbehavior.

The unemployment legislation also includes changes aimed at complying with requirements from the federal government. Failing to comply could cost employers more than $800 million in federal tax credits while state government could lose a couple hundred million dollars for programs.

Lawmakers gave the legislation final approval before adjourning last week.

 

Published in Local News
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