Missouri non-farm payroll employment increased again in December 2020, but a large increase in the civilian labor force sent unemployment higher. Employment, seasonally adjusted, increased by 10,400 jobs over the month, and over-the-year job losses from COVID-19 shutdowns fell below 100,000. However, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 1.3 percentage points from November 2020 to December 2020 as the civilian labor force increased by more than 70,000 over the month. The labor market still showed substantial losses from 2019 levels, and ongoing COVID infections pose a threat of continued economic challenges.
Missouri’s smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 1.3 percentage points in December 2020, jumping to 5.8 percent from a revised November 2020 rate of 4.5 percent.
The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 180,137 in December 2020, up by 45,701 from November’s 134,436.
Despite the increase, Missouri’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has now been either below or equal to the national rate for 69 consecutive months. The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December 2020.
Due to lingering layoffs from COVID-19 shutdowns, Missouri’s December 2020 rate was also 2.4 percentage points higher than the December 2019 rate. After record lows in 2018 and slow increases in 2019, the rate spiked beginning in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate peaked at 10.2 percent in April 2020 before decreasing slightly in May 2020, then moving strongly lower in June and July of 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions were eased. After a growing number of COVID-19 cases in August 2020 caused a small setback for the labor market, unemployment again decreased sharply in September 2020, followed by smaller decreases in October 2020 and November 2020, before an increase of 70,532 in the statewide civilian labor force in December 2020 caused a substantial jump in unemployment.
The state’s not-seasonally-adjusted rate was also 5.8 percent in December 2020, up by 1.8 percentage points from the November 2020 not-seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.0 percent. The corresponding not-seasonally-adjusted national rate for December 2020 was 6.5 percent. A year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4 percent, and the not-adjusted rate was also 3.4 percent.
Missouri’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was 2,809,800 in December 2020, up by 10,400 from the revised November figure. In addition, the November 2020 total was revised upward by 2,300 from the preliminary estimate, producing a revised increase of 19,700 jobs from October 2020 to November 2020 and a revised decrease of 105,800 jobs from November 2019 to November 2020.
Service-providing industries accounted for over 90 percent of the private-sector employment gains over the month, with the largest increases in trade, transportation & utilities (+6,300 jobs), professional & business services (+3,100 jobs), and leisure & hospitality (+1,800 jobs). Educational & health services, however, went against the trend, losing 1,100 jobs). Among goods-producing industries, non-durable goods manufacturing had the only substantial gain, adding 1,400 jobs, while durable goods manufacturing lost 500 jobs and construction was essentially unchanged. Government employment showed only minor changes, adding 300 jobs over the month. It should be noted that seasonal adjustment factors may be subject to revision, given that they are based on a statistical time series that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic.
Total payroll employment decreased by 89,600 jobs from December 2019 to December 2020. Over-the-year job losses were widespread among the major sectors of the labor market, with only construction and “other services” spared. However, a large increase of 7,900 jobs in construction did produce a net gain of 2,400 jobs over the year in goods-producing industries, despite a loss of 5,500 jobs in manufacturing. Meanwhile, service-providing industries lost 92,000 jobs from December 2019 to December 2020. Leisure & hospitality continued to be the industry group most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing 56,600 jobs over the year, a decrease of 18.3 percent. Educational & health services lost 11,400 jobs (-2.3 percent), professional & business services lost 4,900 jobs (-1.3 percent), information lost 3,400 jobs (-7.3 percent), financial activities lost 2,000 jobs and trade, transportation & utilities lost 1,900 jobs (-0.3 percent). Government employment decreased by 12,000 jobs (-2.7 percent) over the year.
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