Unemployment numbers for local area improving

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Statistics show steady gains since winter months

By Murray Bishoff Cassville Democrat

Employment statistics for Barry and Lawrence counties have shown some of the best economic conditions in years for the bi-county area.

Jobless numbers have run consistently under 6 percent in the second quarter of the year, reflecting some of the best numbers in the state.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development reported that in April, jobless statistics fell to 4.8 percent, the lowest point in more than a year, down from 6.0 in March. The tally rose to 5.0 percent in May and 5.5 percent in June. Compared to a year ago, percentages have run 0.7 to 0.8 percent lower for the second quarter of 2014, showing more people are working.

Lawrence County showed a similar pattern. The March jobless total of 6.3 percent dropped to 5.0 in April, and since rose to 5.1 percent in May and 5.8 in June. A year ago jobless numbers ran 0.2 to 0.4 percent higher.

The June totals show Barry County matched Christian County at nearly the lowest unemployment rate in southwest Missouri, a tenth of a percentage point above Greene County. Lawrence County matched Jasper County for the next lowest tally.

State totals have improved steadily over the quarter, rising 3,500 in March, 8,200 in April, 8,200 in May and 2,900 in June. Gains over the past quarter have come in quite diverse areas. In April, retail trade employment grew by 1,900 jobs, while leisure and hospitality increased by 2,000, up by a similar amount in April. June saw professional, scientific and technical service jobs increase by 1,100, while arts, entertainment and recreation added 1,800 jobs.

Over the past year, non-farm payrolls statewide have added 44,200 jobs.

Unemployment numbers in June spiked in counties farther away from Monett. Counties with the highest numbers included Dade at 6.2 percent, Taney at 6.5, Stone at 6.6, McDonald at 6.9, Polk at 7.5 and Barton at 7.8 percent.

Larger population centers like Springfield and Joplin have shown only slight percentage changes over the period. Joplin totals fell from 5.9 percent in March to 5.7 percent in May, a difference of 283 jobs. Springfield moved from 5.9 to 5.7 percent, a difference of 629 jobs. Percentage numbers make smaller moves in larger population centers.

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