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St. Louis’ Job Growth Slow Compared To Other Cities

(provided by the St. Louis Federal Reserve)

The St. Louis area's job growth has lagged far behind other Midwestern cities and the national average since 2010, but things could be turning around.

The metropolitan area saw 1.8 percent growth in the number of jobs from 2010 to 2013. By contrast, Kansas City had double the growth with 3.5 percent; Chicago saw 4.5 percent, and the national average was even higher at 4.7 percent.

Federal Reserve economist Charles Gascon said St. Louis’ number — about 22,000 jobs over the three years — is a reflection of a near freeze in job growth here in 2011 and 2012.

"If you look at the trend in the data, the recovery right after the recession ended was right along the national trend and then we kind of hit this pause," he said. "Now growth has started to pick back up in the last year and a half, so when you average that all out, that’s why the number is at the bottom."

Those numbers began to pick up last year, Gascon said, when St. Louis added 8,000 jobs. He predicts another 9,000-10,000 jobs this year, although he said it depends on what happens in the construction industry.

"The construction sector is really the big question there. It could be zero jobs as it has in the past or it could be 3,000," he said.

The health-care sector has seen big growth in the St. Louis region since before the recession, adding more than 27,000 jobs since 2006. But that growth has begun to ebb with layoffs last year and more expected this year.

Meanwhile, the region’s unemployment rate has experienced an uptick in recent months. In April the rate was 7.2 percent in this area, while it was 6.3 percent nationally. Gascon said the silver lining is that more people are looking for work, pushing that number up.

"If you look at just unemployment you would think 'oh, things are getting worse.' But the labor market has generally picked up, job growth has picked up a little bit, so as a result more workers have re-entered the labor force," he said.

The Federal Reserve also released it Burgundy Book for the second quarter, which you can read here.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.