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Missouri jobs fall, unemployment rises, signs of economic recovery stalling

Missouri jobs fall, unemployment rises, signs of economic recovery stalling

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70 Grand line during coronavirus pandemic

"Why do people have to sit so close," said home healthcare aide Nedra Cushshon, center, who turns her head toward the front of the bus, after a family of four boarded and sat next to her despite the bus being empty on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, along the 70 Grand line. "I just don't understand why some people don't wear masks," said Cushshon, who said she just tries to secure herself by wearing a mask and gloves. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s economic recovery stalled last month as the state shed 1,200 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a percentage point to 7%, according to new state figures released this week.

The flat jobs figures follow a robust July where the state added back 72,000 jobs and unemployment dropped nearly a whole percentage point. They’re also the first jobs figures since the $600 federal unemployment supplement, which kept out-of-work Americans pumping money into the economy, expired at the end of July.

Nearly every major employment sector in the state showed slight declines. The job growth that did occur was in government and leisure and hospitality, hit hardest at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and still nearly 50,000 jobs shy of where it was a year ago. Overall, Missouri has about 128,000 fewer jobs than it had in August 2019.

In the St. Louis metro area, employers added 1,200 back to payrolls last month — better than many areas of the state but a pace far below the 27,000 jobs the region added back in July. A surge in government hiring pushed St. Louis into positive territory, led by local government adding 8,100 jobs last month. Private employment in the region was mixed but mostly flat, except for the loss of 4,000 jobs in wholesale trade.

The St. Louis area reported 1.32 million jobs last month, still 73,000 below the number of jobs a year ago.

Meanwhile, states on Thursday also released weekly jobless claims numbers that show no major changes in Missouri or Illinois unemployment trends.

Missouri reported 8,900 new jobless claims last week, about 2,000 fewer than the prior week. It’s the lowest claims number since the start of the pandemic-related shutdowns in March, but not much lower than the 9,000 claims during the first week in August.

Regular unemployment rolls in the state continued falling. About 14,000 people dropped off the week ended Sept. 5, bringing regular jobless rolls down to 83,000. The federal program for self-employed workers who don’t qualify for regular unemployment, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, dropped by 1,000 to 58,000 during the week ended Aug. 29.

Combined, the two programs still exceeded the worst point of the Great Recession, when some 125,000 Missourians were on unemployment in early 2009.

In Illinois, new unemployment claims fell 2,000 to 23,000 during the week ended Sept. 12. The unemployment rolls dropped 56,000 to 497,000 the week ended Sept. 5. The week before that, 115,000 Illinois residents remained on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a small decline of 3,000.

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