Missouri's unemployment hits high

Saturday, July 20, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed to 5.4 percent in June, the highest level in more than eight years, the state Economic Development Department said Friday.

The adjusted rate, which accounts for normal changes in employment patterns, was up from 4.8 percent in May, but just two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the April and March rates, the department said.

"What these numbers show is that we still have a great deal of uncertainty in Missouri's employment conditions," said department director Joe Driskill.

But, he added, "irregular movements in unemployment are not unusual, particularly in late recession and early recovery periods."

Missouri's unadjusted unemployment rate also was 5.4 percent in June, up from 4.5 percent in May.

Unemployment usually rises in June as some students and summer job seekers have difficulty finding work, the department said. But this year's increase between May and June was higher than usual.

Driskill said that is due partly to the fact that May's unemployment was lower than expected.

Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was still below the national average of 5.9 percent. The national unadjusted employment rate was 6 percent.

Despite the higher unemployment rate, the total number of Missourians employed in non-farm jobs remained essentially unchanged in June, the department said.

The construction and manufacturing sectors gained jobs while service-producing industries showed job losses.

Over the past year, non-farm payrolls have lost 60,600 jobs, including 19,000 in manufacturing. Construction employment is down 8,500 over the past year and the service-producing sector has lost 29,900 jobs.

Missouri counties with the highest unadjusted unemployment rates in June were Wayne County at 11.6 percent, Douglas County at 11.5 percent and Pemiscot County at 11 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Nodaway County at 2.3 percent and Boone County at 2.6 percent.

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