Southeast Missouri counties report lower unemployment

Friday, September 28, 2001

Permanent hiring by U.S. employers isn't expected to increase during the fourth quarter, but part-time employment could go up as Washington prepares for its struggle against terrorists.

Manpower Inc., which issues quarterly Employment Outlook Surveys, said recently that 24 percent of employers plan to add staff during the final quarter of the year, down from the usual 32 percent.

The latest figures were tabulated before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. "We haven't issued any revised totals," said Peggy Gates of the local Manpower office.

Meanwhile, Manpower here is receiving more inquiries than usual.

"That's surprising," said Gates, "but some of the inquiries concern replacement services for reservists who have been recalled to duty by the Pentagon."

Manpower is a temporary staffing agency.

Southeast Missouri rates

Meanwhile, Southeast Missouri unemployment rates have decreased -- for now.

Missouri labor market conditions were little changed in August. Latest official statistics this week reveal that the state's unemployment rate dropped a percentage point, from 4.3 to 4.2 percent and that rates fell in 11 of the 12 Southeast Missouri counties.

The biggest drop in the area came in Perry County where the rate fell from 3.5 percent to 2.6 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state.

The lowest listing in Missouri was in the Columbia area, at 1.8 percent in Boone County.

Employment totals for the three immediate area counties serviced by the Workforce Development office in Cape Girardeau averages more than 96 percent.

The combined work force for the Cape Girardeau, Perry and Bollinger counties was 52,638, with 50,739 people with jobs and 1,899 without, for an unemployment rate of 3.8.

The only county in the Southeast region with an increase in unemployment in August was Scott County, up 1 percentage point, to 5.4 percent, from the July reading of 5.3 percent.

Statewide, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the Kansas City, Springfield, Joplin, and St. Joseph areas were up from a month ago. The St. Louis MSA was down, from 4.3 to 4.2 percent, over a month ago.

Like Manpower, statistics reported by the Department of Economic Development, were derived from data collected prior to the tragic events on Sept. 11, said Joseph L. Driskill, director of the DED, which keeps tabs on the state's employment numbers.

Unemployment rates are likely to change in the months ahead because of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Department of Economic Development said.

Mitch Robinson, director of the Cape Girardeau Area Industrial Recruitment Association, says the employment situation at this time is iffy.

"I've talked with several people in businesses," said Robinson. "Most agree that employment could depend on what a company's products are."

Right now, one of the biggest things on the economic scene is the uncertainty of the market.

It's difficult to say what's going to happen, said Robinson.

"Consumers in this area are still buying," he said. "Here in the Midwest a lot of us feel pretty safe."

Consumers here are still visiting stores and buying merchandise, Robinson said. There's appears to be a lot of people visiting the stores.

In Southern Illinois

Massac and Union counties in Southern Illinois are among the lower unemployment areas.

Metropolis, in Massac County, was the site of a recent $67 million gambling casino expansion, resulting in about 160 new jobs. Harrah's of Metropolis Casino, previously Players International gambling riverboat, has increased its employment to about 960.

Most extreme Southern Illinois counties experienced lower jobless rates in August. Construction payrolls remained at good levels with substantial building activities, and some manufacturing workers having been recalled from temporary layoffs.

But in Pulaski and Alexander counties, just across the river from the Cape Girardeau area, were still among the higher unemployment rate counties, at 10.7 and 9.6 percent respectively, but both counties were down from July.

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