Unemployment in Missouri increased in March. Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in March, up from 4.8 in February. Unusually cold weather likely contributed to the one-month rise in the unemployment rate.
Seasonally adjusted payroll employment decreased by 9,000 jobs from February. Construction employment dropped by 1,400 jobs and retail trade by 3,300, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Wholesale trade and transportation and utilities also experienced losses. Service industry and government employment remained relatively unchanged.
The national unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent in March from 5.5 in February. Four of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the last month. These include Iowa (3.4 percent), Nebraska (3.6 percent), Oklahoma (4.0 percent) and Kansas (4.4 percent).
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally Adjusted.
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-five counties and St. Louis City had unemployment rates that were 6.0 percent or higher.
The highest unemployment rates were found in Stone (18.3 percent), Taney (15.5 percent), Reynolds (12.5 percent), Douglas (12.2 percent), Wayne (12.2 percent), Washington (11.1 percent), Wright (10.9 percent), Pemiscot (10.5 percent) and Madison (10.0 percent) counties.
Areas of lower unemployment are spread throughout the state with the greatest concentration of low unemployment in February in northwestern, southwestern and central Missouri counties. Three counties had unemployment rates below 3 percent.
The lowest unemployment rates were found in Boone (2.1 percent), Nodaway (2.1 percent) and Cole (2.8 percent) counties.