Unemployment rising in Bootheel

Friday, July 26, 2002

Dunklin Daily Democrat

Unemployment continues to rise in the Bootheel and remains well above the statewide rate of 5.4 percent. The jobless rate averaged 8.2 percent in the six county region in June, up from 6.4 percent in May and four-tenths of a point higher than the June 2001 rate of 7.8 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate in the region in June was posted by Scott County, 6.1 percent; followed by Stoddard at 6.7 percent; Mississippi at 7.6 percent; and Dunklin County with 8 percent.

Pemiscot County had the highest jobless rate in June with 11 percent, followed by New Madrid County with 9.6 percent.

The unemployment rates in each county reflected a sharp increases over the previous month, and most were well above last year's percentages.

Missouri unemployment climbed to its highest rate in eight years, reaching 5.4 percent in June, up from 4.8 percent in May, and the highest it's been since February 1994.

Counties with the highest unemployment in June were: Wayne 11.6; Douglas 11.5; Pemiscot 11; St. Louis City 10; Madison and Washington 9.9 and New Madrid and Reynolds 9.6.

Counies with the lowest jobless rates in June were: Nodaway 2.3; Boone 2.6; Atchison 3.2; Putnam 3.3; Adair and Phelps 3.4 and Lewis and Sullivan 3.5.

Unusual numbers

While there's usually an increase in unemployment in June, as some students and job seekers don't immediately find work, the figures this year were higher the usual.

The numbers probably overstate any underlying increase in unemployment since the May numbers had showed an unexpectedly large decrease, said Joseph L. Driskill, director of the Department of Economic Development.

"What these numbers show is that we still have a great deal of uncertainty in Missouri's employment conditions as we move through this recession," said Driskill. "Our seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been seesawing around an upward trend since late last year. Irregular movements in unemployment are not unusual, particularly in late recession-early recovery periods."

Driskill expressed hope a period of recovery is just ahead for the state's economy, but said fluctuating unemployment numbers provide evidence that a period of sustained economic growth isn't likely to occur for a while.

Since last summer, the unemployment rate in Missouri has been lower than the national rate, often by more than a half point.

At 6 percent, the U.S. unemployment rate in June was one-half point higher than May's 5.5 percent.

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