Missouri Department of Labor has provided closed captioning transcripts of our videos for your needs.
Department Featured on Top Money Managers - Episode 1
>>LINDA BROTHERTON: Welcome back to Top Money Manager, Saint Louis Edition. I’m Linda Brotherton. Our next guess is Amy Susan. A native Saint Louisianan who is a former investigative journalist who joined the Missouri Department of Labor in 2009 as their Director of Communications. Good morning Amy.
>>AMY SUSAN: Good morning.
>>LINDA: You have great news to share with us. Uh, the Missouri unemployment rate has been below the national average now for over three years and Missouri has added over 40,000 jobs in the past year or so as well. Share with us some other good stature here in the Department.
>>AMY: Well that’s--that’s pretty good news and can stand alone on itself. But I could give some more good economic indicators. Um, in 2009 we had 650,000 initial claims. Initial unemployment claims are filed by those who lose their job for the very first time.
>>AMY: 2012, three years later, we had only 382,000 claims, so that’s nearly half.
>>LINDA: But it still sounds huge.
>>AMY: It still sounds huge.
>>LINDA: Unbelievable numbers.
>>AMY: It still sounds huge but when you think about dollar signs.
>>AMY: In 2009, which was the peak of the economic slump, um, we invested through unemployment claims 1.1 billion dollars. Okay. So that’s a better way of looking at it.
>>AMY: That’s 1.1 billion dollars that went towards putting gas in their tanks, paying for their children’s clothes, um, paying for their--for their cars, paying for their mortgages. So the reason why unemployment benefits is such an economic stimulator is because you have everything else relying on those people to continue to pay for other things. So, when you have high unemployment benefit, or high unemployment it can be devastating but because of unemployment benefits you’re still gen--generating money.
>>LINDA: What is the actual unemployment rate right now, today as we speak?
>>AMY: 6.7 percent.
>>LINDA: Okay. And the national average, this is lower, than the national average.
>>AMY: It sure is and it has been, as you said.
>>LINDA: Yeah. For over three years now. Why do you think that is?
>>AMY: Well I think that our governor’s done a great job at going back and figuring out what is Missouri’s brand and, um, as we saw in 2011 a lot of that was the Missouri auto industry. Um, as you said, I’m from Missouri, I’m from Saint Louis especially so the Once Fill (ph.sp.) and the Chrysler, all that was really devastating from Hazelwood. And, so when the governor worked really, really closely with the legislature and with Ford and GM, I’m bringing those jobs back. He was very successful and, you know, Ford invested or will be investing 1.1 billion that’s with a B, and GM over 300,000 million dollars. So that’s--that’s huge, that’s huge growth for our state.
>>LINDA: Yeah. That’s good to hear. In Missouri, Amy, tell us what industries are you seeing the most growth out of? What industries are growing right now?
>>AMY: Sure. Well another economic indicator for Missouri is that we are one of the--we have one of the lowest costs of living, in fact we are tenth in the country. And when you have that you’re creating a really good climate for businesses who are either looking to relocate or expand, cuz it’s--it’s less expensive here. Um, if you talk to economists about the housing market, you’re seeing that to stabilize. And because of that we saw 48,000 jobs, um, in the construction industry. We’ve also seen retail up by 3,000 jobs. Healthcare 6,500. That’s another market and industry we’re really looking at. And again, transportation, manufacturing those are all industries that we’re gonna see continue to grow.
>>LINDA: That’s great news. And some of that 3 trillion dollars that’s been sitting on the sidelines since 08, you’re finally seeing that--that come off the sidelines?
>>AMY: Yeah. That’s great.
>>LINDA: And all those great, great industries that can really help lower that 6.7 unemployment rate even more.
>>LINDA: So, I guess we can look at all of this as the overall confidence level of employers is rising. Do you see that in the Department of Labor right now?
>>AMY: We do. And as we’re talking about it right now, hopefully you’re at home saying wow, I was thinking about hiring people and now I am. Because it is an overall mentality but the numbers are backing it up. That’s what great about this. And if you look at 2012, we had again the numbers you think are big but when you compare it to previous years, it’s not so big. 296 mass lay offs affecting 28,000 workers. When you look at 2009, we had 551 mass lay offs with 54,000 workers. So the number of 2012 is actually lower than the number of 2006. So we’re kinda going back and taking ourselves back and employers are retaining their workers and they’re creating new jobs, as you said last year we created over 40,000 jobs, so moving in the right direction.
>>LINDA: Absolutely. And you’re also doing this by--in the last five years the Department of Labor has done so much streamlining electronically. I really want to talk about this because I think people think of the Department of Labor and think, uh, and you’ve made it easier for folks.
>>AMY: Sure. We push a lot of our services online. Over 300,000 or excuse me, 3,000 publications that originally a lot of them were not found online as well as exchanges and services that they would have to call and wait on the phone or go and drive in their car to get to a local office to exchange services or file applications or whatnot. We do a lot of that online and that effort is going to continue and we will continue to increase our customer service. Cuz we are a company just as other privatized companies and -
>>AMY: - and we need to start thinking of ourselves as that and provide really good customer service.
>>LINDA: I know my viewership is happy to hear that. The Department of Labor wants to focus on customer service. I think hearing that from any government agency is--is good for the regular consumer to hear. Let’s keep talking in this same vain here; Amy I grew up thinking the Department of Labor was the unemployment office. I grew up thinking that all the Department of Labor dud--did was unemployment -
>>LINDA: - uh, claims and that’s just not the case. The Department of Labor has five divisions and you work to strengthen the rights of not only the individual but also of our employers here in Missouri. Can you please tell us, um, what the Department does exactly?
>>AMY: Sure. And as you stated unemployment that’s huge. That is overseen by our biggest, Division of Employment Security, which collects UI taxes to then pay benefits to those who lose their job due to no fault of their own, which means they were laid off essentially. We also have the Division of Labor Standards. They oversee wage an hour, um, minimum wage, prevailing wage, youth employment, um, safety. We also have great safety programs that employers can take a part in and save money on worker’s compensation premium. We also oversee the Worker’s Compensation System and that again is to ensure that employers provide coverage for their employees in case they get injured on the job. Missouri Commission on Human Rights, um, we ensure that employers and those in the housing industry, public accommodations even, they are not discriminating, uh, Missourians based on protective categories. And lastly, the State Board of Mediation oversees public elections and, um, bargaining agreements. So it’s a really good agency and as I try to explain it, it’s if you’re working, you did work or you wanna work or you own a business, more than likely you’re gonna have to interact with us and hopefully it’s positive and that’s why I’m here.
>>LINDA: And--and you guys have been working to overcome this idea that myself and I’m sure many other viewers that are watching right now thought the same thing. That you just did unemployment.
>>AMY: It is. It’s a huge misperception. Um, it is like an insurance program, like health insurance or even car insurance, um, you are putting money away--your employer, let’s just get that straight again. It’s not the employees taking money out of their own wages, the employer’s paying for that as a benefit, insurance benefit, just as they do healthcare and other fringe benefits, um, for that employee in the event there’s a lay off and it’s not their employee’s fault.
>>AMY: So again it is--in fact only 35 percent of those who file unemployment actually get it.
>>AMY: So that’s another mystery or myth that most people don’t understand or are knowledgeable about.
>>AMY: Thank you.
>>LINDA: If you have a question for the Department of Labor on any subject including questions on how the Department can help you and your business, please visit out website and click on the Department of Labor profile. We have Mark McClearin , president of Virtual Health 24, 7 up next. Please stay with us.