The St. Louis area lost jobs for four straight months at the end of 2019, but still ended up with its best year for job growth since 2015.
New seasonally adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the metro area losing 2,400 jobs in December and 700 in November, a month that was originally estimated as a slight gain.
The area has lost 5,900 jobs since August, when employment peaked for the year. Still, metro St. Louis has 14,300 more jobs than it did at the end of 2018, the best annual performance in four years.
That's growth of 1.0% for the year, compared with 1.4% for the U.S. as a whole. As recently as November, St. Louis' job growth had been ahead of the national rate.
Metro area construction and mining firms added 4,400 jobs last year, that sector's strongest growth since 1998.
The rest of the growth came from a variety of sectors, including 2,000 jobs in government, 1,900 in retailing, 1,700 in financial services and 1,700 in professional and businses services.
Health care, an industry that often leads growth in St. Louis, shrank by 1,800 jobs last year.
The 2019 numbers will be revised in March, and the revisions can sometimes be large.
The BLS also announced Friday that Missouri's unemployment rate rose to 3.3% in December from 3.1% in November. Illinois' jobless rate fell to 3.7% from 3.8%. The unemployment rate for the metro area, which was 3.1% in November, will be updated in early February.