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Missouri's unemployment rate decreased by a tenth of a percentage point in April, dropping to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent in March.

The estimated number of unemployed Missourians was 126,758 in April, down by 1,303 from March's 128,061, according to the latest report from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

MERIC also noted the state's unemployment rate remained below the national rate of 6.1 percent in April.

According to MERIC, with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic now a year in the past, the April rate was 8.4 percentage points lower than the April 2020 rate. The rate had reached a low of 3.1 percent starting in July 2018 before gradually edging up to 3.5 percent by the end of 2019, then to 3.7 percent in March 2020.

The COVID-19 effect hit in April 2020, with unemployment spiking at 12.5 percent. The rate decreased monthly for the rest of 2020, reaching 4.4 percent in December, and has continued gradually downward through the first four months of 2021.

Missouri's unemployment rate has been below the national rate for every month since February 2020.

Goods-producing industries lost 2,000 jobs over the month, all in manufacturing, as the production of new motor vehicles was hampered by a shortage of semiconductor chips for on-board computers.

Meanwhile, service-providing industries gained 2,600 jobs between March and April, with increases in leisure and hospitality (adding 5,200 jobs) and educational and health services (adding 1,700 jobs) directly attributable to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

A loss of 2,500 jobs in professional and business services appeared to be the result of an extension of the federal tax filing deadline and the resulting decrease in the seasonal hiring of tax processors.

Trade, transportation and utilities lost 2,100 jobs over the month, with losses concentrated in wholesale and retail trade. Government employment showed little change over the month.

Total payroll employment increased by 245,600 jobs from April 2020 to April 2021, reflecting the recovery from the extensive job cuts brought on in April 2020 by the initial wave of COVID-19 infections.

All but one of the major private-sector industry groups shared in the increases, with the largest gain in leisure and hospitality (adding 103,700 jobs), followed by trade, transportation and utilities (adding 53,100 jobs), educational and health services (adding 29,400 jobs) and professional and business services (adding 22,900 jobs).

Government employment decreased over the year, with a loss of 1,800 jobs concentrated in state government.


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