October 31, 2002

Local Unemployment Rate Drops Slightly Following Statewide Trend

Unemployment in Scotland County dropped 0.1 percent in September following a similar trend for Missouri as there was no significant change in the state's labor market conditions during the month, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

The Scotland County unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent while overall the state's unemployment rate decreased two-tenths of a point to 4.6 percent in September, remaining well below the nation's current rate of 5.4 percent.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the state's unemployment rate edged up slightly by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent, the same as it was one year ago. Overall, the unemployment rate has averaged about 5 percent in 2002.

Non-farm payrolls grew by 16,200 jobs in September. An employment increase in September is typical as school and college employment returns to normal following summer vacation. Most of the increase occurs directly in education, either in private educational services or in state and local government, where public schools and colleges are classified. There are usually some ancillary gains in employment as well, in industries such as school bus services and eating and drinking places.

This September, however, the unadjusted estimate of private educational services increased by only 2,200. Since a much larger increase is the norm for September, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell by 9,000 jobs, to 49,000.

With employment not showing the usual degree of seasonal increase in September, the seasonally adjusted estimate of payroll employment fell by 13,500 to 2,673,700. In addition to decreases in educational services employment, other industries were down as well. Construction employment dropped by 6,500, seasonally adjusted, as warm, dry weather this summer allowed projects to be completed early. Manufacturing employment was also down, by 3,700 jobs to 358,700, as a result of small losses throughout many of the industry's sectors.

Business services, another industry that has been badly affected by the recession, lost another 2,100 jobs in September, with employment falling to 144,700. Employment in this industry had stabilized earlier in the year when the economy was showing some signs of life. Since May, it has been falling again, losing 8,200 jobs in four months.

With the estimated drop in employment in September, the over-the-year employment decrease has widened to 54,800, or 2.0 percent. With manufacturing losses generally slower this year than last, employment in that sector has fallen by 13,500 or 3.6 percent. Electrical equipment, lumber and wood products, and chemicals have been the manufacturing industries with the largest losses. Construction employment is off by 10,700 (7.4 percent).

Wholesale trade employment has fallen by 9,200, business services by 7,700, and state government by 5,400.

On the positive side, health services employment has grown by 2,200 jobs, while local government, including public schools, is up by 2,100.

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