Missouri unemployment rate still historically low, Illinois higher than national average in December

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – The labor market in Missouri remains strong, with the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealing a 2.8 percent unemployment rate for the month of December, significantly lower than the national average of 3.5 percent. 

Though the unemployment rate has gone up in Missouri each of the last three months, Southeast Missouri professor David Yaskewich reminds folks that the 2.4 percent number for September was the lowest in Missouri in the 70-plus-year history of this report. 

“I think the real headline here is that unemployment in Missouri remains at historically low levels, slightly above a record low,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, the unemployment rate sits at 4.7 percent. 

Although this figure is significantly higher than the national average, Southern Illinois University professor Kevin Sylwester is not all that concerned with the current state of the labor market in Illinois. 

“Even before the pandemic, unemployment averaged above that in Illinois, so these are still, overall, encouraging numbers,” he said.

Yaskewich said something to keep an eye on in 2023 will be the rate at which new jobs are created. 

“You could have a marginal or a very negligible impact on the unemployment rate if we see job vacancies just dry up without a significant decline in the level of employment,” he said. “That’s the high-hope scenario, or the best-case scenario that would be consistent with the soft landing.” 

Sylwester said that with different demographics and geographical makeups present in different states across the country, it is important to keep unemployment data in perspective. 

“Unemployment has never been the same across every state,” he said. “Now, could some states, including Illinois, do something a little bit different? Are there policies that could probably help? Of course, but you’re not going to see unemployment in Illinois suddenly go from 4.7 to 2.7.” 

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