The Missouri Department of Economic Development recently released its January Jobs Report. This report conveys how employment increased by 9,000 jobs in January, while the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.5 percent over the month.
Record Low Unemployment
The unemployment rate had reached a record low of 3.0 percent starting in July 2018, before edging up a tenth of a point in November 2018 and again in December 2018. The rate had remained at 3.2 percent through April 2019 before decreasing by a tenth of a point in May 2019. It then began a slow increase, reaching 3.4 percent in October 2019, where it remained for the remainder of 2019.
This marks the 42nd consecutive month in which Missouri’s rate has been lower than the corresponding U.S. rate (currently 3.6 percent). The Missouri rate has been equal to or lower than the U.S. rate for 58 consecutive months.
The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 109,659 in January 2020, up by 3,287 from December’s 106,372.
Fluctuating Employment Rates
The not-seasonally-adjusted rate increased from 3.4 percent in December 2019 to 4.2 percent in January 2020. This increase in the not-seasonally-adjusted rate is typical for January, when activity in outdoor-oriented industries like construction and recreation reaches a low point. The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate normally peaks in January and February before starting a steady decrease that lasts through the spring. The corresponding national rate was 4.0 percent. A year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.2 percent, and the not-adjusted rate was 3.8 percent.z
Missouri’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was 2,908,400 in January 2020, up by 9,000 from the December figure. However, the December figure was revised downward by 14,800 from the preliminary estimate as a result of the September 2019 benchmark of employment.
Private-sector employment gains over the month occurred in both goods-producing and service-providing industries, with goods-producing industries adding 2,700 jobs and private-sector service-providing industries adding 6,300 jobs. Employment in construction increased by 2,000, while manufacturing had a smaller gain of 700 jobs. Among service-providing industries, professional & business services gained 3,800 jobs, trade, transportation & utilities gained 1,900 jobs and leisure & hospitality gained 900 jobs. Exceptions to the upward movement occurred in health care & social assistance, which lost 2,400 jobs, and accommodation & food services, down by 1,600 jobs.
As a result of the 2019 benchmark, 12-month job gains were substantially diminished in January 2020. Over the past year, payroll employment grew by 7,100 jobs, or 0.2 percent. Goods-producing industries accounted for 2,200 of the increase, with all of the increase concentrated in construction (+3,300 jobs). Private-sector service-providing industries added 2,700 jobs over the year, with gains in professional, scientific, and technical services (+4,600, +2.9 percent); educational & health services (+3,600, +0.7 percent); and accommodation and food services (+2,700, +1.0 percent).
Overall gains in service-providing industries were held down by losses in administrative & support services (-7,600, -4.8 percent); information (-2,400, -4.9 percent); and retail trade (-2,200, -0.7 percent). Employment in government increased by 2,200 over the year (+0.5 percent), with increases of 1,800 jobs in federal government and 800 in state government offsetting a loss of 400 jobs in local government.