Missouri Minute: US unemployment improves; protests continue across state

Good morning, MBA readers,

The past two days have brought a pair of relatively positive unemployment numbers for an economy that has been battered by the fallout from the coronavirus. Friday’s May unemployment report showed the U.S. economy adding a surprising 2.5 million jobs. One day earlier, Missouri reported a seventh consecutive week of declining first-time unemployment claims. Still, the national unemployment rate for May was 13.3%, and more than 20,000 people in Missouri filed initial claims last week — both numbers that dwarf pre-pandemic levels. As unemployment decreases, some parts of the state are seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases. The Kansas City metro area has experienced the largest three-day increase in confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic.

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US unemployment improves to 13.3% as economy adds 2.5 million jobs
In an unexpected rebound, the national unemployment rate for May was 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April. Payrolls added 2.5 million jobs after shedding 20.7 million the month before due to COVID-19. (Bloomberg)

Protests continue across state
Thousands of people in Missouri joined in another round of protests Thursday to call attention to police brutality toward African Americans. In Kansas City organizers planned to move Friday’s demonstration downtown. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star)

Weekly state unemployment claims exceed 20,000 but continue downward trend
About 20,500 Missourians filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to new state data. As restrictions on businesses ease, the number of jobless claims has fallen for seven straight weeks from more than 100,000 in early April. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Southeast Missouri bottle maker to permanently lay off half of its workforce
Pirimal Glass, one of the world’s largest glass bottle manufacturers, plans to permanently lay off 165 workers in Park Hills. The jobs being eliminated include engineers, bottle makers, machinists, supervisors and packers. (Missourinet)

Roads reopened Thursday as Plaza remained closed
Roads around Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza reopened Thursday, but the shopping and entertainment district stayed closed. The Plaza initially closed on Saturday amid protests in the area. (Kansas City Star)

U.S. Senate introduces bill that recruits farmers to combat climate change
Under the proposed bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would help farmers and ranchers use carbon dioxide-absorbing methods to generate revenue from greenhouse gas offset credits. (Reuters)

No new COVID-19 cases confirmed from Ozarks Memorial Day parties
Missouri’s top health official confirmed that no new COVID-19 cases have been reported by people known to have been at bars and pool parties at the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Nursing home in Union confirms five COVID-19 cases
Three residents and two employees at Sunset HealthCare Center tested positive for the virus, according to the Franklin County Health Department. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Foundation donates $1 million to buy body cameras for KC police
The Kansas City Police Department said it has secured funding to meet one demand of local protestors, who have voiced concerns over police brutality. Kansas City’s DeBruce Foundation donated $1 million, while other businesses and philanthropies contributed $1.5 million. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis County mall site sits idle after site developer backs out
Walpert Properties is dropping plans to purchase the former site of the Crestwood Plaza mall, citing economic concerns posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Walpert had plans for building apartments, office space and retail on the 47-acre property. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Simon Properties sues Gap over defaulting on rent payments
The clothing retailer, which has seven locations in Missouri, is being sued by Simon Properties, the largest mall owner in the U.S., for failure to pay $65.9 million in rent and other charges since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (CNBC)

NASCAR announces return to KC in July
The Kansas Speedway plans to host five NASCAR races July 23-25. The races are currently scheduled to be run without fans in attendance due to social distancing norms, but officials are exploring the possibility of allowing some fans to attend. (Kansas City Business Journal)

WonderWorks attraction to open in Branson 
The $13 million indoor amusement park is slated to open Friday with safety measures for COVID-19 in place. The 48,000-square-foot attraction focuses on stimulating experiences related to science, technology, engineering and math, like zero-gravity astronaut training. (Springfield Business Journal)

Two Ozarks festivals canceled due to coronavirus concerns
The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival and the Sucker Days Music, Arts & Crafts Festival were projected to draw roughly 100,000 people in total, but the festivals have been called off due to concerns of the virus spreading. (Springfield Business Journal)

Show me

St. Charles County has one of the highest census self-response rates of any county in the U.S., at better than 77%. Missouri as a whole hovers near the national average and trails many of its Midwestern neighbors in responding to the decennial survey, which plays a key role in distribution of federal funding and helps guide strategic planning for many businesses.

Say that again

“We all remember what that first day on campus looks like. This generation is going to have a very different experience.”

That’s Clark Peters, chair of the University of Missouri Faculty Council, which on Thursday rejected a plan to start classes early this fall but supported the idea of holding classes online after Thanksgiving, the Columbia Missourian reports. The plan called for the fall semester to start two weeks early and conclude before Thanksgiving. Universities across the state and country are adopting similar timelines in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But MU’s faculty group voted down the idea, with math professor Dan Edidin calling the schedule “a death march to Thanksgiving.”

Go figure


That’s the number of consecutive days that the Kansas City metro area has reported 100 or more new COVID-19 cases, The Kansas City Star reports. Thursday marked an increase of 133 cases, with Wednesday and Tuesday bringing 129 and 164 new cases, respectively. The metro area has seen only six days of new cases numbering more than 100 since the onset of the pandemic, with the past three days accounting for half of that total.

Hello, my name is

Inx Medical

This St. Louis company typically produces surgical devices, but it has pivoted to creating personal protective equipment since March, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Inx has hired 20 new employees, many of whom had recently been laid off by other employers, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company makes roughly 100,000 face shields monthly, which are all sold in the St. Louis area. Inx has paused its development of a device for use in colorectal surgery to focus on producing essential medical gear for as long as necessary.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Have a great weekend.


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