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Missouri unemployment jumps in April, but rate lower than most states

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri's unemployment rate was up in April over the previous year and the previous month, but the state fared far better than most of its neighbors and most of the nation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday released April jobless numbers broken down by state. Missouri's 9.7 percent jobless rate falls somewhere in between, among Nevada's worst-in-the-nation 28.2 percent unemployed and Connecticut's best-in-the-nation 7.9 percent. Of Missouri's neighbors, only Nebraska fared better than the Show-Me State, with 8.3 percent unemployment.

The rate in Missouri took a large leap from the 3.9 percent March rate as COVID-19's grip on the economy tightened amid stay-at-home orders that closed many businesses. Missouri's statewide order didn't lift until May 4 and was replaced by a reopening order that allowed most businesses to resume operations.

Last April, Missouri's unemployment rate was 3.2 percent.

More data on each state's unemployment numbers are available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Other than Nebraska, Missouri's neighbors reported rates in the double digits.

  • Iowa, 10.2 percent
  • Illinois, 16.4 percent
  • Kentucky, 15.4 percent
  • Tennessee, 14.7 percent
  • Arkansas, 10.2 percent
  • Oklahoma, 13.7 percent
  • Kansas, 11.2 percent

The national jobless rate went up by 10.3 points in April over March and 11.1 points over last April. Unemployment increased in every state.

Another 4.4 million Americans applied nationwide for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of claims to more than 43 million.

The Missouri Department of Labor is reporting unemployment claims have slowed down.

For the week ending May 16, there were 27,882 initial claims filed in Missouri, a decrease of 9.2 percent from initial claims filed the previous week.

Of those claims, 21,085 claims were self-reported as being COVID-19 related. There were a total of 258,710 requests for payment, a decrease of 1.9 percent compared to the previous week. 

ABC17 News spoke with John Calton who lost both of his jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he applied for unemployment in mid April, and while approved he has not received payment.

He said if he didn't have family to fall back on, he would be in a much harder situation.

"I understand why people have to go to food pantries and why people are becoming homeless now," Calton said. "At first I was like, dang how is that happening but I really understand it because if they are going through what I'm going through, there's no way that they can not be homeless."

The Department of Labor could not give specific information about delays in unemployment checks, but said during "normal times" it can take 4-6 weeks to fix an issue on an application.

County numbers released by the state were not yet available Friday morning.

Economy / Email Alert – Breaking News / Missouri / News / Top Stories

Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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