The latest unemployment rate measured in the St. Louis metropolitan area dipped below 7 percent for the first time in five years. The region recorded a jobless rate of 6.8 percent in November, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Labor Department. That’s down from 7 percent in October and the lowest rate since September 2008, when the stock market crash and bank failures accelerated the so-called Great Recession.
But much of the improvement since the unemployment rate peaked in early 2010 came not so much from job creation as from people dropping out of the labor force. The region’s “jobless recovery” is borne out in another set of data, the so-called payroll survey that asks companies how many people they employ. At 1,309,200, the St. Louis region’s payroll number was up 800 in November from October, and up about 27,000 from its low in late 2009. But job growth here has stalled in recent months, and the region remains about 34,000 jobs below its pre-recession high.