Missouri’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in August while the U.S. rate fell to 7.3 percent. August was the closest the state rate came to the U.S. level since January 2011, when both the U.S. and Missouri numbers were just above 9 percent.
The number of unemployed people in Missouri increased almost 3.9 percent to 216,300 in August 2013, compared to 208,200 last year. The state’s labor force barely went up, according a release published Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Slow growths in population and average wage are hurting the state’s job market, according to Professor David Mitchell, director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University.
“We just had really slow growth farther and farther behind,” Mitchell said. With falling median income, Missouri is not attracting enough high-skilled workers to the market.
It is a “long-term structural problem” because changes in sectors such as education could only see obvious results after policies are in place for more than a decade, Mitchell said.
As the short-term unemployment rate trend has gone up, Mitchell suggested employees in certain industries should prepare themselves to pick up more skills.