Missouri's Unemployment Rate is Lowest Since 2008

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Economic Development said Tuesday the unemployment rate in Missouri dropped to 6.5 percent in October making it the lowest since September 2008. 

The national unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in October. Executive Vice President of Regional Economic Development, Inc. said the numbers are so low because most businesses that are expanding are bouncing back from economic struggles.

"I think the recovery is underway," Bernie Andrews said. "Companies are feeling a little bit more comfortable about investing."

Andrews said the housing market in Columbia, specifically, also helps improve the unemployment rate.

"They're building some homes, there's quite a lot of construction activity both in housing, student housing, and road construction," he said.

Companies like Kaldi's Coffeehouse have been able to expand because of the holiday season approaching. Andrews said seasonal employment also lends to the low numbers in unemployment. Kaldi's General Manager Brandon Summit said he's hired 12 new employees in the past two months.

"We find that during the semester, especially when the population of Columbia essentially doubles, we find a lot of people looking for work," Summit said. "It's a nice balance between the influx of people as well as employees."

Although Columbia's population doubles mainly because of students, Summit also said he gets a lot of applicants for full-time jobs. 

"Anytime we've offered a full-time position through advertisement we see an enormous influx of applicants," Summit said. "I would say it is harder to find the full-time positions, there's plenty of part-time positions available, in a college town that's always going to be the case."

Summit said one of the full-time employees he recently hired tries to work more hours because he is trying to provide for his family. He said having so many part-time employees helps full-timers get more hours.

"It's easy to divide the total amount of hours I have to give out between those who have more responsibilities versus those looking for weekend cash," he said.  

One new Kaldi's employee was hired two weeks ago and said he is looking to be a full-time employee.

"When I re-entered the market there was difficulty finding a full-time job," Carlos Vargas said. "I had to be very, very proactive in finding people to talk to about getting hired."

Vargas is working as a part-time employee at the moment, but is trying to make his way back to a full-time position.