Community Focus Report

Business & Economic Development

Springfield Area Unemployment Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Like the rest of the country, Springfield and Greene County saw huge spikes in unemployment during the pandemic.

But those numbers have reached pre-pandemic levels once again as restrictions have eased and businesses have reopened to indoor seating, according to the Community Focus Report white paper on business (pdf) released Monday, Sept. 20. Economic strength and growth remain a Blue Ribbon for the area.

After reaching a high of 12% in April 2020, the unemployment rate for Greene County was 3.1% a year later, below the state and national rates. Some of the effects on businesses have been mitigated by other factors. The relative strength of the regional economy will have ripple effects on the entire economy that will help in recovery and growth efforts for businesses of all sizes. And government relief efforts such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan and other programs also have helped to soften the immediate blow.

Curious if your employer received help from the Paycheck Protection Program? Search this ProPublica database of federal-loan recipients.

For example, businesses in the five-county Springfield MSA have been approved for more than $377 million in PPP loans as of May 31, 2021, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, including more than $249 million to businesses in Greene County.

Monthly unemployment rate, January 2020-April 2021

Despite these gains, many individuals have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began due to lack of options or the need to care for children that are home due to remote learning. These reductions in workforce — the labor force in the Springfield metro area was down by close to 15,000 at its low point in mid-2020 — are also sure to exacerbate the existing skilled workforce shortage, which has been identified as a Red Flag in the latest Community Focus Report.

The Missouri Job Center's Momentum 2021 State of the Workforce Survey (pdf) found that 68% of organizations in the seven-county Ozark Region (Greene, Taney, Christian, Polk, Webster, Dallas and Stone counties) had difficulty hiring qualified applicants in the last 12 months, a percentage that has been steady for the last five years.

The full list of Blue Ribbons and Red Flag are available in the white paper. (pdf)

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