Missouri's jobless rate 1 percent lower than national rate

An estimated 1,800 Missourians found employment in February, bringing the state's unemployment rate down from 2.7 percent to 2.6 percent.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) released its monthly jobs report for February on Wednesday, which estimates changes to employment and unemployment figures from January to February.

There were an estimated 79,698 unemployed Missourians in February 2023, down by 2,184 from January's estimate of 81,882.

At 2.6 percent, Missouri's unemployment rate remains a full percentage point below the national rate of 3.6 percent. From January to February, the U.S. unemployment rate increased from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent. Missouri has had an unemployment rate at or below the national rate for at least the past five years.

Missouri's labor force participation rate -- the proportion of the total state population that is economically active -- was 62.8 percent in February, up slightly from where the state ended 2022. Missouri's labor force participation rate is three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 62.5 percent.

Missouri's employment-population ratio -- the number of workers currently employed compared to the total working-age population in Missouri -- was 61.1 percent in February, also up slightly from where the state ended 2022. The state ratio is nearly a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 60.2 percent.

An estimated 2,962,000 Missourians were employed in February. MERIC revised its January estimate for the number of people with jobs down by 8,400, putting the estimated employment increase in February at 1,800 jobs.

Employment increased in both public and private sectors as private industries added 1,700 jobs and the government added 100 jobs from January to February.

Private goods-producing industries gained 3,900 jobs over the month as manufacturing added 3,800 jobs and mining, logging and construction added another 100.

Those gains were offset by a loss of 2,200 jobs in private service-providing industries. Professional and business services lost 2,700 jobs, education and health services lost 1,100 jobs, information services lost 400 jobs and other service industries lost 1,100 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities added 1,900 jobs, leisure and hospitality added 700 jobs and financial activities added 500 jobs.

Local governments added 200 jobs over the month. State government lost 100 jobs over the month.

In Jefferson City, employment increased by an estimated 400 jobs from January to February. Private goods-producing industries added 200 jobs, private service-providing industries added 100 jobs and the state government added 100 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, employment throughout Missouri has grown by 58,000 jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen 0.1 percent.