Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly in September to 4.2 percent from August's rate of 4.0 percent.
In September, typically, unemployment inches down slightly as schools and colleges reopen for the fall term. Missouri's seasonally unadjusted employment rate did decrease in September, but less than would be expected. This accounts for the increase in the seasonally adjusted rate, which is a better measure of underlying economic conditions. Overall, Missouri's labor market conditions were relatively stable in September.
The national unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent in September. Five of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the past month. These include Nebraska (3.0 percent), Iowa (3.1 percent), Oklahoma (3.3 percent), Kansas (3.8 percent), and Tennessee (4.0 percent).
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 unemployment levels are particularly pervasive in southeast and north central Missouri. Twenty-seven counties had unemployment rates that were 6.0 percent or higher.
The highest unemployment rates were found in Linn (11.7 percent), Douglas (10.3 percent), Wayne (8.4 percent), Pemiscot (8.3 percent), Reynolds (8.3 percent), Dent (7.8 percent), Washington (7.6 percent), Wright (7.6 percent), Hickory (7.2 percent), and Madison (7.2 percent) counties.
Areas of low unemployment are spread throughout the state with the greatest concentration of low unemployment in September in northern Missouri counties. Twenty-five counties had unemployment rates below 3 percent.
The lowest unemployment rates were found in Nodaway (1.1 percent), Boone (1.7 percent), Harrison (1.9 percent), Osage (1.9 percent), Mercer (2.1 percent), Cole (2.3 percent), Lewis (2.3 percent), and Platte (2.4 percent) counties.
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor