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New state, national unemployment claims fall as pandemic restrictions are lifted

A "now hiring" sign hangs outside On The Rocks Bar in downtown Columbia in April 2021.


The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a pandemic low last week while Missouri claims also dropped.

Initial weekly unemployment claims nationwide hit a peak of 900,000 in January. Claims were at 498,000 in the most recent reporting week.

In Missouri, unemployment claims dropped by about 4,000 last week. At the end of April, claims were sitting at 12,424, but as of last week claims were at 8,267.

Joe Haslag, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, said the easing of local coronavirus-related restrictions in Missouri is helping spark more hiring.

"We are seeing fewer and fewer restrictions on businesses."Haslag said. "The pool of applicants is shrinking, but it's still there."

Haslag said most job postings are for service industries, including hotels and restaurants.

However, Matt McGee the owner of On the Rocks in Columbia, said the local economy has not seen the effects of the drop in claims.

"We are all running shoe strings staffs, we are all tired, we all have been working really hard for the past 6 months to try and keep going forward, at this point now that things are ramping up we really need people," McGee said.

Unemployment claims often shrink in the warmer months, but Haslag said the current drop isn't the usual seasonal kind.

"The most interesting part of this is how close we have come to showing a recovery in the total goods and services produced," Haslag said. "But employment has not recovered as quickly."

Nationwide the number of applications is still well above the roughly 230,000 level it was at before the pandemic hit, affecting the economy in March of last year.

More than 16,000 coronavirus-related unemployment claims have been filed in Boone County since the pandemic began. However, the county had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state in March at 3%. Missouri's rate for March was 4.2% -- up from 3.7% a year ago.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Zola Crowder

Zola Crowder joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in June 2020 after graduating from the University of Missouri with a broadcast journalism degree. Before reporting at ABC 17, Zola was a reporter at KOMU where she learned to cover politics, crime, education, economics and more.


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