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St. Louis job market was solid in February, but March and April will look much different

St. Louis job market was solid in February, but March and April will look much different

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Restaurants close voluntarily across St. Louis

The dining room at Pastaria in Clayton sits empty March 16, 2020, after Gerard Craft closed most of his restaurants due to the coronavirus. 

It's old news now, but updated data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the St. Louis job market was in decent shape a month ago.

The metro area lost 500 jobs in February, according to the seasonally adjusted estimate, but that was after a unusually large gain of 9,100 jobs in January. In the latest 12 months, the St. Louis area had added 12,700 jobs, a gain of 0.9%.

Pandemic-related job losses probably won't show up in the figures until April, but the BLS' industry-specific numbers provide clues about  how many St. Louis workers are vulnerable.

The metro area has 141,500 leisure and hospitality workers, about a tenth of the region's 1.4 million total jobs. This category includes restaurants, hotels and casinos that have been forced to close.

Retailing employs almost as many people, 133,600. About 20,000 of them work in grocery stores, which have been adding workers, but many other retailers have closed.

The airline industry, which has also been hit hard, is hard to isolate from the BLS numbers. A supersector encompassing transportation, utilities and warehousing employs 58,600 people in metro St. Louis.

A recent report by the Brookings Institution estimated that 208,307 St. Louis area workers, or 15.6% of the workforce, are in industries that face high risk of job losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

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