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.
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.