By Chris Dinkins
Greetings Friends of the 144th!
I hope everyone is enjoying summer. It has been extremely hot these last few weeks and makes it difficult for most to enjoy being outside for an extended period of time except for in the early mornings or late evenings. Please remember to check on your neighbors and family members who may not have air conditioning or who may work out in their gardens that may not realize if they get overheated. Leave a cold bottle of water for mailman or others who may have to work outside during these extreme temperatures. Enjoy your summer but remember to stay hydrated.
State Unemployment Rate Drops to Historic Low
Missouri once again received good news as the latest jobs report shows Missouri’s unemployment rate has hit a record low. The state unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent in June, which is the lowest rate in Missouri since the data series began in 1976.
Missouri was previously at 3.1 percent unemployment for the month of May but saw non-farm payroll employment increase by 5,300 jobs from May to June. That increase dropped the unemployment rate by three-tenths of a percent. Compared to last year at the same time, Missouri has seen an increase of 65,500 jobs. The June 2021 unemployment rate was 4.4, which is 1.6 percentage points higher than the current rate. Missouri’s unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for the last five years.
Although Missouri’s overall unemployment rate is lower than the national rate, our area businesses continue to struggle to find and keep good employees. Constituents tell me all the time we need to attract companies who pay well to our area. I’ve spoken with several of these higher paying companies, one of the first thing they look at is workforce. If the area they are considering locating to does not have a good workforce to pull from, they will not go there. They cannot sustain their business in a profitable manner without a quality workforce. It is vital for the future success of our rural communities that we begin to teach our children work ethic at a very young age.
I know we all want our kids and grandkids to have more than we did, but giving them everything they want without having them to earn anything does not help them to develop the skills needed to be successful in adult life. If you want our small communities to continue to be, if you want your children to be successful in life, give them the understanding that it takes strong work ethic, commitment and to always do your best at whatever you do.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Now Available in Missouri
Missourians suffering a mental health, suicide, or substance use crisis can now dial 9-8-8 to receive compassionate, accessible care and support. The 988 number routes callers to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The 988 line will be the first step to engage individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. There are seven crisis centers in Missouri responsible for answering 988 contacts for the state. The trained crisis specialists at each center will listen, work to understand how the individual’s problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources. Crisis specialists will also have the ability to dispatch mobile crisis response teams for additional crisis response wherever the crisis is occurring in the community and based on the needs of the person.
While 988 is a national initiative, it is up to each state to ensure crisis services are available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. After nearly two years of planning and preparation, Missouri’s 988 centers are prepared and ready to answer the projected 253,000 contacts (calls, texts, and chats) expected in the first year of the 988 implementation. Missourians dealing with a crisis who need immediate help can reach out by calling or texting 988, or chatting at https://988lifeline.org/.
Missouri Workforce Diploma Program – SB 681 & 662 will help the thousands of Missourians who do not have a high school degree. The bill establishes the Workforce Diploma Program under the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The program is designed to assist Missourians in obtaining a high school diploma and developing employability and career technical skills. There are currently more than 445,000 adults in the state who don’t have a diploma. Under the program, the department would contract with providers that can administer the program. The bill creates a “pay-for-performance” system so providers would only be paid if they are successful in helping Missourians obtain credits toward a diploma.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative, I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112. Please do not contact me via social media. These messages are easy to overlook and may not be responded to in a timely manner.