Unemployment seems to be staying about the same according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) report for St. Francois County. Numbers have slightly increased since September 2022, which was the best month for the county the year, but have since stayed around a 3.1%.
According to the Fed, St. Francois County started off 2022 with the highest unemployment since the previous year, with 4.7% of the county being considered unemployed. The best month for unemployment in the county during 2022 was September, which saw a low of 2.5%. October and November show a slight increase, with October 2022 seeing 3.1% and November 2022 seeing 3.2% unemployment, but the number had slightly decreased for the month of December, dropping to 3.1%
While December 2022 is a slight decrease compared to November, the number is still relatively low compared to the previous years. Since COVID, this December has been the lowest in three years. In December 2020, St. Francois County saw 5.5% unemployment, in December 2021 the number decreased to 3.9%, and now this past December the county’s unemployment rate was 3.1%.
The data from the Fed is looked at monthly from current population surveys and looks at the civilian labor force, people aged 16 or older, to see who is employed or unemployed.
Employed people are defined as people who did any work as paid employees, worked in their business, profession, or farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of their family.
Unemployed people are defined as those who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the four-week period. People who are waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off are not required to be looking for work to be classified as unemployed.
Branch Manager Kendall Bourne with Proman Staffing out of Farmington said there have been layoffs in the area and imagines it would be a reason to see an increase in unemployment.
“I would say we’re seeing a heavier applicant flow of people looking for work than what we’ve seen in the past couple of years, especially like post-COVID,” said Bourne. “It’s starting to pick up a little bit in terms of applicants, but now the business isn’t really there.”
Bourne said, while there might have been more than 20 clients at one time, Bourne said there are currently eight or nine businesses wanting to hire people.
While Bourne said the number of businesses looking to hire is down, employers are still looking for workers. Bourne mentioned the Department of Corrections is always hiring.
“We keep getting told, in the spring things will pick up,” said Bourne, “but what do we do until then? I don’t see that businesses are as active as they once were.”
Bourne mentioned having talked to the women at Express Employment Professionals and they have been seeing the same issue.
“We’re hopeful in the next few months or by the end of the year we have more openings to fill for people. I hope to see that unemployment number drop,” said Bourne.
A state Senate committee is considering legislation that would incentivize unemployed Missourians to rejoin the workforce.
Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 21, which would modify the duration an individual can receive unemployment benefits by creating a sliding scale model tying the length of unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate.
The duration would range from a high of 20 weeks if the state unemployment rate is higher than 9%, to eight weeks if the unemployment rate is at or below 3.5%.
Sen. Bernskoetter is a small business owner and said he has had trouble trying to find employees for the business.
A similar bill has been introduced in the Missouri House by Rep. Jeff Knight, R-Lebanon.
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Director of Legislative Affairs Heide Sutherland said the Missouri chamber supports Sen. Bernskoetter’s bill, saying the current labor shortages create a need to pass the legislation.
Danielle Thurman is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-518-3616.