August unemployment chart

August unemployment rates in Pike County, 1990-2019.

Pike County’s unemployment rate appears to have bottomed out after years of decline.

The just-released August rate ­of 3.8 percent is just a little above the rates in August 2018, 3.6 percent, and 2017, 3.4 percent.

The August rate had most recently peaked at 9.5 percent in 2010.

County-level unemployment rates, estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are not seasonally adjusted, which means they reflect the ebb and flow of hiring and firing over the course of the year.

Unemployment rates are calculated by excluding people who are not looking for work, including students, retirees and so-called discouraged workers, who are unemployed but no longer looking for work.

The BLS estimates the workforce of Pike County at 7,388, including 7,109 people in work and 279 people looking for work.

Pike County’s rate was a little higher than the state-wide rate of 3.4 percent.

A tight labor market  produced a statistically significant increase in the number of people working in Missouri from August 2018 to August 2019: an increase of 38,200, or 1.3 percent. Other measures, including the unemployment rate, remained basically the same year over year, according to the BLS.

Per the Missouri Department of Labor, 30 new unemployment insurance claims were filed in August 2019 in Pike County, just a little below the 33 claims filed in August 2018 and August 2017. That number has declined from around 100 new claims in August 2009 and 2010.

Eight times a year, each Federal Reserve District — including the St. Louis district, which includes portions of six states around St. Louis and all of Arkansas — reports a collection of anecdotes and survey results in an effort to give a finer-grained account of their regions economic condition.

The St. Louis district reported that their contacts in different industries had “turned slightly pessimistic” about their economic prospects. Agriculture, the report noted, had been depressed by low commodity prices and the after-effects of flooding while barge traffic was up, apparently compensating for flood-related hold-ups. Net-net 40 percent of their contacts reported higher wages than a year ago, indicating a moderate increase the district attributed to a still-tight labor market.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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