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Missouri's Job Loss Highest in the Nation

April 15, 2003
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

New statistics from the U-S Department of Labor show Missouri led the nation in job loss last year.

Missy Shelton reports.

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From January 2002 to January 2003, Missouri lost 77,700 jobs, more than any other state.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce is using this new statistic to renew its push for business-friendly legislation.

Dan Mehan is the president of the chamber...He says the statistic underscores the scope of the economic crisis in Missouri.

At a press conference Tuesday, Mehan called on lawmakers to act.

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Mehan says he doesn't know why Missouri is leading the country in job loss.

But he says lawmakers can do some things to help slow job loss.

For example, Mehan says lawmakers need to change the workers' compensation system.

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But those on the other side of the issue offer another picture of Missouri's workers' comp system.

Ken Jacob is the top democrat in the senate.

He says the chamber is wrong to blame the workers' compensation system for the state's job loss.

He says in his experience as a lawyer pursuing workers comp claims, he's seen how the system already favors businesses, not injured workers.

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Jacob says it's wrong for the chamber to use the job loss statistic to advance a pro-business agenda that ultimately hurts workers.

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Jacob says he's not surprised that Missouri would see some job loss during a national economic downturn.

While many places throughout Missouri are seeing the national downturn impact their local economies, some say Southwest Missouri is doing slightly better than most areas.

Brad Bodenhausen is a Senior Vice President with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

He credits the region's diversity of industry with shielding Southwest Missouri from economic instability.

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Bodenhausen says even though the Springfield area is impacted less by the economic downturn, he's still hearing complaints from local businesses about the state's workers' compensation system.

Workers' comp legislation that has the support of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce has final House approval and is awaiting debate in the senate.

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