State suffers greatest job losses in U.S.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's unemployment rate rose again in July as the state endured the worst job losses in the country.

Last month's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, up from 5.2 percent in June, according to data released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate in May was 5.1 percent.

Missouri had the nation's highest percentage of lost jobs, losing 1.9 percent of its seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll. The loss of 51,800 positions also led the country in terms of total jobs that disappeared.

Missouri Department of Economic Development director Kelvin Simmons was unbowed, focusing on the fact that the unemployment rate was still lower than a year ago, when it was 5.8 percent.

Simmons also said the state has seen an overall 38,400 increase in nonfarm jobs over the last year, although that number isn't adjusted to exclude people who only work a portion of the year.

He blamed most of the decrease in jobs on schools closing for the summer and automakers laying off employees as they change production lines, changes that happen every year about this time. He also pointed out that Missouri led the nation in job growth in June.

The government sector lost 39,400 jobs during the month, followed by 6,000 jobs in education and health services, 1,900 jobs in construction and 1,400 jobs in manufacturing. The total employment number is still above the 2.66 million employed in July 2003.

Linn County had the state's highest unemployment rate for the month, rising from 6.8 percent in June to 11.4 percent in July. Nodaway County continued to have the state's lowest rate at 2.6 percent, up from the 2 percent rate recorded in June.

In the state's major metropolitan areas, unemployment went up from 6 percent to 6.5 percent in St. Louis; went down from 5.9 percent to 5.7 percent in Kansas City; increased slightly from 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent in Columbia; and stayed level at 3.7 percent in Springfield.

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