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David Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Manufacturing seeing uptick in St Louis area

Kirk Darden loads boxes with freshly labeled Febreze bottles for shipment on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, at Amcor Rigid Plastics LLC plant in Hazelwood. Amcor, with the installation of two new blow molding lines in the plant, will need to add about 50 jobs related to the manufacture of plastic containers for multiple products. Photo by Christian Gooden,

The St. Louis area lost 6,500 jobs in February, reversing much of an unusually large January gain.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest seasonally adjusted data have the metro area adding 7,600 jobs in January, down from a preliminary estimate of 8,700. The new figures leave the area with a gain of 10,000 jobs, or 0.7 percent, between February 2018 and February 2019.

Payroll employment nationally grew 1.7 percent in the same 12-month period.

One remarkable aspect of the recent numbers is that St. Louis' job growth is being led by goods-producing industries. Manufacturing employment is up by 4,100 in the latest 12 months while construction and mining firms have added 2,000 jobs.

Services employment, which for years accounted for most of St. Louis' job gains, has turned mixed. Financial services firms have added 1,900 jobs and health care employers have added 1,700, but retail employment has shrunk by 3,300. Professional and business services firms, often a leading growth engine, have added just 300 jobs.

Figures for specific industries are not seasonally adjusted.