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Unemployment in Columbia down 0.4 percentage points

Sunday, December 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

Two years of steep national job cuts all but ended last month, unexpectedly pulling down the unemployment rate and raising hopes for a lasting economic recovery.

And Columbia followed suit, with an unemployment drop from 6.3 percent to 5.9 percent between September and October.

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According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent last month. The United States unemployment rate was significantly lower in Nov. 2008, being reported at 6.8 percent. Since then, rates have only continued to climb. The only drop in the national unemployment rate since November of last year was in July, dropping to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent in June.

Columbia’s unemployment rate has proved to be lower than the national rates in the past year. While the national rate was at 6.8 percent last November, Columbia’s unemployment rate was 4.4 percent. Furthermore, Columbia experienced multiple drops in their unemployment rate in the last year.

The national underemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who are seeking full-time work and workers that have been laid-off and have given up looking for work, dropped from 17.5 percent in October to 17.2 percent in November.

While the rare drop in unemployment rates is positive news, it is still proving very difficult to find work. The number of people that go without jobs for at least six months rose last month to 5.9 million and the average length of time an individual goes without employment has risen to over 28 weeks, which is the greatest amount of time on record dating back to 1948.

Still, officials are hopeful after Friday’s release of the labor department’s report that said that only 11,000 jobs were lost in November, which is an improvement from the 111,000 jobs lost in October. That is the best report since Dec. 2007, which is the last time the economy added jobs and is considered to be the start of the worst recession since the 1930s.

Factories, retailers and construction companies were some of the hardest hit segments by the recession. All of these areas showed improvement in November, as well as transportation companies and those working in the areas of leisure and hospitality.

Employment improved more in retail trade in Boone County from 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 than in any other industry, according to information provided by Columbia’s Regional Economic Development Inc.

Missourian reporter Andrea Nenow contributed to this report.


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