April jobless numbers down

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The April unemployment numbers for Saline County, surrounding counties and the state as a whole all showed significant improvement. But an analysis from the Missouri Department of Economic Development indicates the report may be a silver lining with a cloud.

Locally, Saline County's April jobless rate was 5.7 percent, .5 percent better than in March and .1 percent below February's figure but well above the 3.5 percent unemployment rate for April 2001.

DED data indicated the county's labor force lost about 160 available workers between March and April and the total number of persons employed was down by about 800 in April compared to the previous month. One year ago, the DED reported Saline County had 12,212 available workers compared to 11,718 in April of this year. A total of 11,055 persons were listed as employed in the county during April, compared to 11,784 reported as employed in April 2001.

Missouri as a whole reported a 5 percent jobless rate for the month, down .4 percent from March and .6 percent higher than a year ago in April. Among neighboring counties, Lafayette County reported a 5 percent unemployment rate for April, down .3 percent from March. All five other area counties showed a greater drop in their unemployment rate than Saline County.

Cooper County showed the most impressive improvement in its unemployment rate, going from 5.3 percent in March to 4 percent in April - a 1.3 percent decline. Howard County's jobless rate dropped 1.2 percent, to 4.4 percent in April. Carroll and Pettis counties each saw their unemployment rates drop by .8 percent, to 4.9 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively. Chariton County reported a 5.4 percent unemployment rate in April, down .7 percent from the previous month.

The Department of Economic Development reported that a decrease in unemployment is typically seen in April because of several seasonal factors.

Missouri's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 5.2 percent is 1.5 percent higher than a year ago and the DED reported that over the past 12 months the state has lost 61,100 non-farm payroll jobs.

Manufacturing employment was steady in April for the third straight month, but has accounted for more than a third - 26,000 - of the jobs lost statewide in the last year. Among other industries employing fewer workers than in April 2001, according to the DED report, were construction, down 7,600 jobs, and private sector service industries, down 27,800 jobs. The state also reported there are now 4,100 fewer state government workers.

Gains of 3,000 jobs in construction and 4,800 jobs in retail trade, mainly in eating and drinking establishments, along with 10,500 jobs in service industries such as recreation and agriculture helped improve April's unemployment figures but were below the gains historically seen during the month.

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