Unemployment

Desired Trend

Down

Current Trend

Down
Baseline (2010): 9.5%
Current (2019): 3.3%

Theme Prosperous

Definition

Unemployment Rate

Why is it Important?

The unemployment rate is an important indicator of the health of the economy and the level of opportunity for St. Louis residents.1 A healthy economy has a low unemployment rate because there are enough jobs for those who are able to work. However, a healthy economy will also have some amount of unemployment due to workers changing jobs and new workers entering the workforce. According to the Federal Reserve, the long-run normal level of the unemployment rate is between 3.5 and 4.5 percent. This is the rate that unemployment is expected to be at over the next five to six years.2

How are we Doing?

Unemployment in the St. Louis eight-county region decreased from 9.5 percent in the baseline year 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2019. The unemployment rate in the St. Louis region closely tracks the national unemployment rate. It briefly increased following the 2001 recession and increased substantially following the recession of 2007-2009. Unemployment has steadily declined since 2010. The unemployment rate for the St. Louis region is lower than it was prior to the recession (5.0 percent in 2006). In 2019, the rate was lower than it was in 1999. The number of unemployed people in the St. Louis region grew from 48,000 in 2000 to 130,000 in 2010. Since then the number has steadily declined to 45,000 in 2019.

The national unemployment rate in 2019 (3.7 percent) was below the rate of 4.6 percent in 2006 (and 2007), prior to the Great Recession. In 2019, St. Louis had a lower unemployment rate than 25 of the peer metropolitan regions. Among peer regions, New Orleans had the highest rate (4.5 percent) and Salt Lake City had the lowest rate (2.5 percent).

Geographic Level

St. Louis eight-county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties and the city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.

Notes

1The official unemployment rate does not include underemployed workers or discouraged workers who have given up on finding employment.

2Federal Reserve System, What is the lowest level of unemployment that the U.S. economy can sustain? 26 September 2018; accessed on 10 December 2018 at http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/economy_14424.htm.

Data Sources

Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), Bureau of Labor Statistics