April employment numbers show positive signs for Missouri

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Employment in Missouri rebounded in April following three flat months, while unemployment edged down slightly to 4.9 percent, compared to 5 percent in March and 5.4 percent in April 2002, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development. The state's unemployment rate is nearly a full point below the national rate of 5.8 percent.

While the Missouri Bootheel followed this downward trend, unemployment remained well above both the state and national levels averaging 7.4 percent April compared to 7.7 percent in March and 7.6 percent in April last year.

The size of the state's workforce posted its largest gains in three years, 12,500 in April. This was the largest gain since October 2000.

Joe Driskell, director of the Economic Development Department, said the April employment figures are encouraging.

"The positive signs that we have seen throughout this year are indications Missouri's economy is improving," he said.

April unemployment rates reported by the six Bootheel counties ranged from a low of 5.4 percent in Scott County, to a high of 10.5 percent in Pemiscot County.

Dunklin County posted a jobless rate of 7.6 percent in April, down from 7.9 percent from March and unchanged from a year ago.

Mississippi County saw unemployment slip fractionally to 6.2 percent in April compared to 6.3 percent in March and 7.9 percent last April.

New Madrid County saw its jobless rate drop more than a point to 9.2 percent in April from 10.4 percent in March, but remains much higher than the April 2002 rate of 8.6 percent.

Unemployment in Pemiscot County slipped fractionally from 10.6 percent in March to 10.5 percent in April, a full point lower than the same month last year.

At 5.7 percent, April's jobless rate in Stoddard County compared to 5.9 percent in March and 6.3 percent in April 2002.

Scott County was the only Bootheel county to see in increase in unemployment in April, 5.7 percent compared to 5.2 percent in March but below last April's rate of 5.9 percent.

Neighboring Butler County reported unemployment of 4.6 percent in April, down from 5.1 percent in March and 5 percent in April a year earlier.

Double-digit rates

Only three counties experienced double digit unemployment in April, two of which are in Southeast Missouri. Sullivan County had the highest unemployment rate of any county at 10.9 percent. The Southeast Missouri counties of Pemiscot and Wayne followed with 10.5 and 10.2 percent unemployment respectively.

The county with the lowest jobless rate was Nodaway with 1.7 percent, followed by Boone County with 1.9 percent.

So far this year, unemployment in the state has averaged 4.9 percent, well below last year's average of 5.5 percent.

About 2.6 million Missourians had jobs in April. Gains included 4,400 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, 4,200 in professional and business services, 2,300 jobs in educational and health services and 4,700 jobs in other services. However there were losses of between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs in manufacturing and construction industries, as well as in the trade, transportation and utilities areas.

Non-farm payroll employment climbed by 10,000 jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, to 2,645,300 in April. During the first three months of the year employment had ranged from 2,635,300 to 2,638,100.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: