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US unemployment rate dips; Springfield MSA figure rises

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Though job growth slowed, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to a 10-year low in March. Meanwhile, the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Springfield metropolitan statistical area show an increase in February, the latest month available.

United States
The country’s jobless rate ticked down to 4.5 percent last month from 4.7 percent in February, according to a news release.

During the month, employers added 98,000 jobs. Comparatively — when the unemployment rate decreased by a tenth of a point in February — nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 jobs.

Retail trade posted the biggest drop in March, losing 30,000 jobs. General merchandise stores’ payroll ranks declined by 35,000, according to the release.

The loss was more than offset by gains in professional and business services, at 56,000 jobs added; health care, at 14,000; mining, at 11,000; financial activities, at 9,000; and construction, at 6,000.

Other industries such as manufacturing and wholesale trade were flat during the month, according to the release.

Queen City
The Springfield MSA was among five statewide that posted increased unemployment rates in February, according to a separate BLS news release.

The five-county area’s jobless rate moved up to 4.2 percent from 3.8 percent in January.

Missouri’s metro areas, ranked by February unemployment rate:
    •    Columbia, 3.3 percent, up from 3 percent;
    •    Jefferson City, 4.1 percent, up from 3.7 percent;
    •    Springfield, 4.2 percent, up from 3.8 percent;
    •    Joplin, 4.3 percent, up from 3.8 percent;
    •    Kansas City, 4.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent;
    •    St. Joseph, 4.6 percent, up from 4.3 percent;
    •    St. Louis, 4.6 percent, flat;  and
    •    Cape Girardeau, 4.7 percent, down from 4.8 percent.

Compared with the same month in 2016, February unemployment rates were lower in 278 of the 388 metro areas tracked by the BLS, higher in 88 and unchanged in 26, according to the release.

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