Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 1,123,867
Current (2021): 1,190,768

Theme Prosperous


Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs

Why is it Important?

Employment in the region is a key indicator of economic vitality and social well-being. Higher employment indicates that the skills of the local workforce match the skills required by the jobs in the region. The employment rate must be analyzed in conjunction with the unemployment rate and population growth, since an increase in employment is more valuable to the local economy if it outpaces working age population growth1 and is accompanied by decreases in the unemployment rate.

How are we Doing?

Full-time equivalent (FTE) employment2 increased in the St. Louis region from 1.12 million in the baseline year (2010) to 1.19 million in 2021. Based on annual average employment data, from 2008 to 2009, during the Great Recession, employment in the region decreased by 5.8 percent (68,952 FTE jobs). From 2009 to 2019, FTE employment increased by 7.8 percent. From 2019 to 2020, including the COVID-19 recession period, FTE employment declined by 5.2 percent (62,963 FTE jobs). Some of the employment lost during the pandemic has returned, but as of 2021, FTE employment  was lower than it was in 2019. From 2020 to 2021, FTE jobs increased by 48,000, a 4.2 percent increase. Still, FTE employment was about 1.2 percent lower in 2021 than it was in 2019, an equivalent of 14,963 FTE jobs. 

The annual data shows a larger decrease in employment during the period that includes the Great Recession than the period which includes COVID-19. However, monthly employment data shows that employment in the COVID-19 recession decreased by more than twice as much as was seen in Great Recession. For more detail on employment during the COVID-19 recession, see an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data by East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

The increase in employment from 2010 to 2021 was accompanied by a decline in the working age population (80,609)3 and a reduction in the number of unemployed workers (85,116).4 This indicates that the increase in employment was not offset by a growth in the working age population or weakened by an increase in unemployment. For the first time since prior to the Great Recession, the number of FTE jobs in the St. Louis region was higher than in 2008 with about 18,000 more full-time equivalent jobs in 2019 than at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008, about 1.5 percent more jobs. In 2020, the number of FTE jobs fell below 2008 again, due to COVID-19. In 2021, the number of FTE jobs surpassed the 2008 level again but is not back to pre-pandemic levels. 

Among the 50 most populous metropolitan regions in the country, St. Louis has the 20th largest number of FTE employees. These 50 regions account for about 59 percent of the 126.8 billion FTE employees in the United States. St. Louis accounts for about 1 percent. St. Louis also ranks 20th for FTE Employment per 1,000 people.

Geographic Level

St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). View map.


1Working age population is defined as residents between the ages of 16 and 64.

2Full-time equivalent employment includes all non-farm workers in the region (all private and public sector employees). Full-time equivalency is determined by multiplying the number of employees by the average number of hours worked per week by private employees and dividing by 40 to convert to a standard 40 hour per week full time schedule. Average hours worked per week is not available for public employees, and is assumed to be the same as private employees.

3American Community Survey (B23001), United States Census Bureau

4Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics


Data Sources

Current Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics