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Missouri's unemployment rate improved by less than a quarter of a percent between September and October, and the labor force shrank some, according to the state's latest jobs report.

Locally, gains over the past year in the number of goods-producing jobs have not come close to off-setting losses in service industry jobs.

The most recent monthly jobs report from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, released this week, showed the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points between September and October, with the unemployment rate standing at 4.6 percent.

"Due to lingering layoffs from COVID-19 shutdowns, the October 2020 rate was still 1.2 percentage points higher than the October 2019 rate," according to MERIC.

The national unemployment rate last month was 6.9 percent.

An estimated 137,729 Missourians were unemployed last month — down by more than 6,000 people from September, and more improvement from peak unemployment in April, when the rate was 10.2 percent and an estimated 292,690 Missourians were out of work.

However, the civilian labor force has continued to decrease — shrinking by more than 16,000 between September and October — and MERIC reported that decrease can be attributed to people who've exhausted their unemployment benefits and are no longer being counted as part of the workforce.

As more or at least continued job losses become more likely with a surge in coronavirus cases and accompanying economic restrictions and disruptions, MERIC reported total payroll employment was down 121,800 jobs from October 2019 to October 2020.

"As in September, over-the-year job losses were widespread among the major sectors of the labor market, with only construction and 'other services' spared. Goods-producing industries lost 3,500 jobs over the year, and service-providing industries lost 118,300 jobs."

The Jefferson City area gained 700 non-farm jobs between September and October — 1,600 fewer than a year ago, or 2.1 percent less.

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Goods-producing jobs have increased during the pandemic — growing 8.3 percent in the Jefferson City area compared to a year ago, employing 11,800 people last month — but service jobs have taken a 3.7 percent hit over the same time, employing 64,500 people in the area last month.

Goods-producing jobs deal with things such as construction and manufacturing. Service jobs include retail, office jobs, entertainment, hotels and restaurants — the kind of jobs most at risk from customers being driven away because of a pandemic.

Federal government jobs in the area grew 12.5 percent over the year, but it's not enough to offset the smaller 3 percent or so decreases to the much larger state and local government work forces in Jefferson City, which together employ more than 23,000 compared to 900 federal jobs.

People in the area who are working are, on average, working more than three hours a week more than they were last year, and bringing in approximately $142 a week more, with average weekly earnings in the area last month being $770.94.

The full October jobs report and other monthly reports are available at meric.mo.gov/missouri-monthly-jobs-report.

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