Metro St. Louis' unemployment rate is back below 5% for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The rate for October, as seasonally adjusted by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, is 4.9%, down from 5.8% in September. The area's unemployment rate jumped from 3.4% in March to 11.6% in May, then began falling as businesses reopened.
The national jobless rate was 6.9% in October, down from a peak of 14.7% in May.
The falling unemployment rate has been driven both by a bounce-back in jobs and by people leaving the workforce. Many former workers have stopped looking for jobs because of child-care issues, worries about the virus or pessimism about their job prospects.
Metro St. Louis' labor force — defined as the number of people working or actively looking for a job — shrank by 52,960 people, or 3.6 percent, between October 2019 and October 2020, according to figures released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS counted 61,646 metro area residents as unemployed in October, down from 78,276 in September but up sharply from 43,061 a year ago.
The unemployment rate is calculated from a BLS survey of households. A separate employer survey showed that metro St. Louis added 5,600 jobs in October but has lost 60,100 jobs since the pandemic began.