Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly during May to 3.8% from a 4.0% level in April. This rate is 0.4 percentage points higher than May of 2000. The national unemployment rate also fell, 0.1 percentage points, to 4.4% in May 2001 from 4.5% in April. Four of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the past month. These include Iowa (2.8%), Nebraska (2.8%), Oklahoma (2.9%), and Kansas (3.6%)
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 Missouri. Nineteen counties had unemployment rates that were 6.0% or higher. Those with the highest rates include Wayne (9.5%), Reynolds (9.1%), Macon (8.5%), Dent (8.0%), Mississippi (8.0%), Pemiscot (7.9%), Wright (7.5%), and Hickory (7.2%)
Conversely, there are several pockets of very low unemployment mainly in northern Missouri and metropolitan areas. Twenty counties had unemployment rates that were lower than 3.0%: Boone (1.4%), Nodaway (1.7%), Platte (2.2%), St. Charles (2.3%), DeKalb (2.3%), Cole (2.4%), Harrison (2.4%) and Clay (2.5%).