Missouri's unemployment rate sees marked decline in September, but there's a big caveat

Katie Kull
Lake Sun Leader

A quick glance at last month’s job report looks like good news for Missouri’s economy: unemployment went down drastically from 7 to 4.9 percent.

Gov. Mike Parson cast it that way at a news conference Thursday, saying it showed "Missourians are getting back to work.”

But a closer look at the state's monthly labor report reveals another cause of the decline: more than 68,000 people officially fell out of the workforce in September because they exhausted their unemployment benefits.

That means those folks aren’t counted in the number of people who are unemployed, thereby reducing the unemployment rate.

The state did add 13,000 jobs between August and September, but the state remains down 121,900 payroll jobs compared to September 2019, according to the report.

The decline peaked in April, when the state saw an 11.5 percent decrease in total, nonfarm jobs from the previous month and recorded an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.

In the Springfield area, jobs were down 1,900 from August when adjusted for seasonal factors in employment, and the area was down an estimated 7,500 nonfarm jobs from 2019.