Area unemployment remained historically high in May

    While initial jobless claims and unemployment rates throughout the region declined in May, joblessness remained near historical highs. Since the pandemic hit the economy in March, more than 4,700 people in Crawford and Phelps counties have filed for unemployment.

    The unemployment rate in Crawford County inched down a bit in May, dropping to 9.3 percent from a high of 9.5 percent in April. In March, the rate had been 5.8 percent, while it was just 4.7 percent in February.
    Initial jobless claims in Crawford County also fell in May to 432, down from 941 in April and 554 in March. In February, just 65 people filed for unemployment benefits. May’s total was still the third highest since December 2008.
    In Phelps County, May unemployment was 6.1 percent, down from 6.6 percent in April. The March rate was 4.4 percent, which was up from 3.8 percent in February.
    Phelps County had 550 initial jobless claims in May, down from 1,449 in April and 829 in March. In February, claims were just 81. The May number was the third highest reported since November 2008, which is as far back as state records go on Department of Labor’s website.
    Initial jobless claims and unemployment rates remained high throughout the region. Total first-time claims and unemployment rates for the last four months were as follows:
    • Dent County – May 154 claims, 5.9 percent; April 434, 6.1; March 212, 4.8; February 17, 4.0.
    • Franklin County – May 2,015, 10.9; April 5,083, 10.7; March 3,670, 4.7; February 288, 3.9.
    • Gasconade County – May 213, 9.7; April 651, 9.5; March 433, 4.0; February 31, 3.6.
    • Iron County – May 120, 9.8; April 373, 8.5; March 147, 7.4; February 28, 5.7.
    • Maries County – May 96, 6.2; April 277, 5.6; March 133, 4.3; February 26, 3.7.
    • Pulaski County – May 465, 7.6; April 1,435, 7.7; March 654, 4.9; February 40, 4.0.
    • Texas County – May 237, 6.7; April 608, 7.3; March 300, 6.0; February 41, 4.8.
    • Washington County – May 383, 10.5; April 970, 10.4; March 473, 6.9; February 82, 6.1.
    Between the April 2020 preliminary and final estimates, some revisions were made to the seasonal adjustment factors for statewide employment and unemployment estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result of these revisions, the April 2020 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was revised upward from 9.7 percent to 10.2 percent, while there was no revision to the not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate. In addition, the Missouri seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2020 was revised downward to 3.9 percent, putting it below the national unemployment rate for that month.
    Missouri’s labor market began a rebound in May 2020, following the major job losses in April 2020 from COVID-19 shutdowns. Employment, seasonally adjusted, increased by 32,900 jobs over the month, though still down by 260,600 over the year. Missouri’s smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by a tenth of a percentage point in May 2020, decreasing to 10.1 percent from a revised April 2020 rate of 10.2 percent.
    However, the May 2020 rate was more than three times higher than the May 2019 rate. The rate had reached a record low of 3.0 percent starting in July 2018, before edging up a tenth of a point in November 2018 and again in February 2018. The rate had remained at 3.2 percent through April 2019 before decreasing by a tenth of a point in May 2019. It then began a slow increase, reaching 3.4 percent in October 2019, where it remained for the remainder of 2019. The rate was steady at 3.5 percent in January and February 2020 before the COVID-19 spike began in March 2020.

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