Unemployment in Missouri dropped unexpectedly in December. Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in December to 4.4 percent from November's rate of 4.7 percent.
Although estimated unemployment fell, payroll employment numbers showed continuing job losses. Nonfarm payrolls lost 6,400 in December, on a seasonally adjusted basis, falling to 2,713,700. Net job losses over the past year now total 47,600, or 1.7 percent.
The national unemployment rate increased to 5.8 percent in December. Three of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the past month. These include Nebraska (3.4 percent), Iowa (3.5 percent), and Kansas (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 high unemployment levels are particularly pervasive in southeast, west central and north central Missouri. Thirty-four counties and St. Louis City had unemployment rates that were 6.0 percent or higher.
The highest unemployment rates were found in Reynolds (12.5 percent), Douglas (11.8 percent), Wayne (11.8 percent), Pemiscot (9.5 percent), Wright (9.4 percent), Bollinger (8.9 percent), Dallas (8.9 percent), Madison (8.9 percent), Mississippi (8.8 percent) and Benton (8.7 percent) counties.
Areas of low unemployment are spread throughout the state with the greatest concentration of low unemployment in December in northwestern Missouri counties. Eleven counties had unemployment rates below 3 percent.
The lowest unemployment rates were found in Nodaway (1.3 percent), Boone (1.7 percent) and Cole (2.2 percent) counties.
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor