Missouri recorded a year-end unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in December 2014, down from 6 percent a year earlier. Meanwhile, unemployment in Kansas fell to 4.2 percent, down from 4.9 percent in December 2013.
The new estimates, posted Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, put the two states among 46 states and the District of Columbia that had lower joblessness rates at the end of 2014 than at the end of 2013.
Nationally, the unemployment rate slipped 1.1 percentage points over the year to settle at 5.6 percent in December. That indicates that Missouri and Kansas had lower unemployment rates than the national average, but their comparative improvements were smaller over the year.
The unemployment numbers come from a monthly household survey. The government’s companion survey of employers, or “establishments,” showed job growth in all 50 states over the year.
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Preliminary data for December 2014, listed 2,793,300 employees on non-farm payrolls in Missouri, an increase of 45,000 compared to December 2013. For Kansas, the report listed 1,395,500 employees on non-farm payrolls in December, or 12,800 more than a year earlier.
All figures were calculated on a seasonally adjusted basis which takes into account usual fluctuations in the job market over a year.
Job gains remained healthy in states with large oil and gas industries, suggesting that plunging oil prices had not translated to significant layoffs by the end of the year. Texas gained 45,700 jobs in December, the most in the nation.
Nationwide, nearly 3 million more Americans are earning paychecks now compared with 12 months ago. That should help boost consumer spending and accelerate the economy’s growth. Analysts forecast that growth should top 3 percent this year for the first time in a decade.
Contributing: Associated Press