Unemployment in Missouri dropped in January for the second straight month. Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in January to 4.7 percent from a revised December rate of 4.9 percent. (Both labor force and payroll employment data have been annually benchmarked and revised, resulting in changes to historic data.)
Seasonally adjusted payroll employment grew in January for the first time since peaking in February 2001. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 8,400 to 2,703,600. A milder than usual winter, encouraging construction and other weather-sensitive industries, and weak holiday retail hiring, leaving fewer to be let go in January, may have contributed to this increase. January and February are typically the highest unemployment months of the year.
The national unemployment rate decreased to 5.6 percent in January from 5.8 in December. Four of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the last month. These include Iowa (3.3 percent), Nebraska (3.4 percent), Oklahoma (4.2 percent) and Kansas (4.3 percent).
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor
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. Fifty-four counties and St. Louis City had unemployment rates that were 6.0 percent or higher.
The highest unemployment rates were found in Stone (22.8 percent), Taney (20.4 percent), Douglas (13.1 percent), Wayne (12.9 percent), Reynolds (12.4 percent), Miller (11.2 percent), Wright (10.8 percent), Camden (10.7 percent), Washington (10.7 percent), Pemiscot (10.4 percent) and Hickory (10.0 percent) counties.
Areas of lower unemployment are spread throughout the state with the greatest concentration of low unemployment in January in northwestern and central Missouri counties. Only two counties had unemployment rates below 3 percent.
The lowest unemployment rates were found in Nodaway (1.8 percent), Boone (2.1 percent) and Cole (3.0 percent) counties.