Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly during February to 3.8% from a 3.6% level in January. This rate is 0.4 percentage points higher than February of 2000. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.2%. Four of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the past month. These include Iowa (2.6%), Oklahoma (2.7%) and Nebraska (2.8%), and Kansas (3.7%).
Unemployment levels are not distributed evenly across Missouri, with pockets of high unemployment persisting in several areas (county-level rates are not seasonally adjusted). Counties with the highest levels of unemployment continue to be clustered in three main regions: (1) Southeast Missouri; (2) the Lake of the Ozarks; and (3) north central Missouri along U.S. Highway 36. A fourth region of extremely high unemployment has developed in the Branson region, due to seasonal effects in the tourism and entertainment industries. Twenty-nine counties had unemployment rates that were 7.0% or higher. Those with the highest rates include Stone (22.2%), Taney (18%), Wayne (11.2%), Macon (10.8%), Hickory (10.4%), New Madrid (10.4%), Pemiscot (10.0%), Reynolds (9.9%), Benton (9.4%), and Miller (9.4%).
Conversely, there are several pockets of very low unemployment, which are located in the metropolitan areas of the state and in northwest Missouri. Nine counties had unemployment rates that were lower than 3.0%: Boone (1.4%), Nodaway (2.1%), Platte (2.1%), Clay (2.4%), Cole (2.5%), Greene (2.6%), Atchison (2.7%), Saline (2.8%), and St. Louis (2.9%).
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates,
Seasonally Adjusted, 1999-2000.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor
Map 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally Unadjusted.
Source: Labor Market Information, Missouri Department of Economic Development