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St. Louis begins adding back jobs but Missouri unemployment still tops 10%

St. Louis begins adding back jobs but Missouri unemployment still tops 10%

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Race away

A worker passes by a locked gate at Fairmount Park in Collinsville on Tuesday, June 09, 2020. The track reopened to horse racing on Tuesday, however only essential personnel such as jockeys, medical and training staff were allowed in. All betting was done remotely. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com.

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s unemployment rate hovered at 10% last month after shedding 260,000 jobs over the last year, according to figures released Thursday by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

In metro St. Louis, employers added back 11,100 jobs in total last month after losing some 150,000 in April. The climb back was led by the addition of 20,800 jobs in leisure and hospitality, though that sector was still down by 60,000 jobs from a year prior. Government shed 3,800 jobs, led by local government, and hospitals laid off 2,600 people in May. The region was down by an estimated 128,100 jobs from May 2019. The St. Louis region’s unemployment rate stood at 11.6% in April, according to figures released earlier this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state unemployment rate fell slightly, to 10.1% in May from 10.2% in April, which was revised up from initial estimates. A year ago, state unemployment stood at 3.1%. Missouri’s labor force was down nearly 54,000 from a year ago to just more than 3 million as people stopped looking for work or retired early.

Missouri also released weekly jobless claim numbers on Thursday, which continued to decline but remained at levels not seen since the Great Recession. The 18,679 unemployment claims filed in the state last week was down slightly from the 19,820 people who filed in the first week of June. Another 5,400 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the emergency federal program that extends benefits to self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular unemployment. That was slightly more than the prior week.

Nationally, claims ticked down but the 1.5 million people who filed for jobless benefits remained at roughly twice the level seen during the depths of the last recession. Another 760,000 filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. In Illinois, unemployment claims were virtually unchanged from the week ended June 6, with 44,639 people filing for unemployment and 9,000 people filing for pandemic assistance last week.

Across the country, 20.5 million were on the regular unemployment rolls as of June 6, a slight decline from the week before.

In Missouri, the unemployment rolls fell to just under 216,000 people June 6, a drop of 20,611 the week before. As of May 30, another 80,000 people were on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance rolls in the state, up from 68,365 the week of May 23.

Missouri officials announced this week they plan to crack down on unemployment benefits next month, reinstating a waiting period that effectively delays benefit payments for one week, and also again requiring recipients to document three weekly “work search activities” such as applying for jobs or attending job fairs. Officials have also launched a portal to let employers report workers who refuse to return to work, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Illinois unemployment rolls fell 32,000 to 709,000 the week of June 6. The pandemic assistance rolls in that state stood at 85,156 the last week of May, up 9,000 from May 23.

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