Missouri’s economy mirrors national trend of fewer jobs, slightly more unemployment

(The Center Square) – There were fewer job postings and slightly more people looking for work in Missouri in 2023, affirming an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showing the national labor market loosened up by approximately 50% last year.

After Missouri’s 2023 employment and unemployment data went through an annual review, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment increased for every month except for December. The state’s unemployment increased over the year by 502 to 11,634 people per month, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC).

“During 2023, Missouri’s total unemployment increased from a revised 86,079 people in January 2023 to 100,920 people in December,” the report stated. “The unemployment rate in 2023 increased for most months of the year by 0.1 to 0.4 percentage points.”

The Federal Reserve report found substantial variations in labor markets in each state. Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped from a 50-year-high of 14.8% in April 2020 to a 50-year low of 3.4% in January 2023.

“At the peak of labor market tightness in 2022, demand for labor exceeded the available supply by 6 million workers and there were twice as many job vacancies as unemployed workers,” according to the Federal Reserve report. “During 2023, labor market conditions eased from this peak as supply and demand moved closer to balance, with the gap narrowing to 2.8 million workers. This shift occurred against the backdrop of strengthening economic growth, moderating inflationary pressures and only a slight increase in the unemployment rate.”

Online job postings in Missouri peaked for 2023 at 86,240 in January and dropped to 54,900 in November, according to MERIC data. Total payroll employment increased by 42,100 jobs from January 2023 to January 2024 with the largest gains in private education and health services (16,600 positions) and leisure and hospitality (14,100).

“Nationally, the employment level rose by roughly 1.9 million workers over 2023,” the Federal Reserve report said. “This was offset by a decline in job openings, which fell by 2.2 million. In total, our measure of the quantity of labor demanded remained relatively stable over the year, registering only a slight decrease of 325,000 workers. It was essentially negligible in comparison with the increase in the labor force.”

However, the Federal Reserve report stated labor markets remain historically tight and labor demand was exceeding supply prior to the pandemic and the 2020 recession. It noted “professional forecasters continue to see elevated risks of a recession in the year ahead.” It also predicted the economy will continue to grow in 2024 but at a slower rate than 2023.

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