State unemployment rate drops slightly, remains below average

Missouri’s unemployment rate decreased by a tenth of a percentage point in January, dropping to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent in December.

The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 130,822 in January, down by 4,290 from December’s 135,112, according to the latest report from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

MERIC also noted the state’s unemployment rate remained below the national rate of 6.3 percent in January.

Missouri’s streak of seasonally adjusted unemployment rates below the comparable national rates is now 11 consecutive months.

Missouri’s January rate was 0.7 percentage points higher than the January 2020 rate due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MERIC. The rate had reached a low of 3.1 percent starting in July 2018 before gradually edging up to 3.5 percent by the end of 2019, then to 3.7 percent in March 2020. The COVID-19 effect hit in April 2020, with unemployment spiking at 12.5 percent. Since that time, the rate decreased monthly for the rest of 2020, reaching 4.4 percent in December.

Goods-producing industries gained 1,700 jobs between December and January, with increases of 1,200 in manufacturing and 500 in mining, logging and construction.

Meanwhile, service-providing industries added 4,200 jobs, with increases in educational and health services (3,600 jobs), leisure and hospitality (2,500 jobs), and professional and business services (1,800 jobs).

Those exceeded losses in the financial sector (-3,600 jobs) and trade, transportation and utilities (-1,000 jobs).

Government employment decreased by 300 over the month, with a gain in local government canceled out by losses in federal and state government employment.

Total payroll employment decreased by 124,800 jobs from January 2020 to January 2021.

Over-the-year job losses were widespread among the major sectors of the labor market, with only trade, transportation and utilities spared. Goods-producing industries lost 10,600 jobs over the year, proportionally divided between manufacturing (-7,400 jobs) and mining, logging and construction (-3,200 jobs).

Service-providing industries took a harder hit, losing 114,200 jobs over the year, with nearly half the loss in leisure and hospitality (-56,100 jobs). Professional and business lost 15,900 jobs over the year, educational & health services lost 11,900 jobs, “other services” lost 5,500 jobs, financial activities lost 4,000 jobs, and information lost 3,300 jobs. Government employment also decreased over the year, losing 17,900 jobs.