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St. Louis MSA Economy

The bi-state St. Louis MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes 16 counties. It has a resident population of 2,825,769, according to 2009 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The region hosts 1,520,158 people between the ages of 25 and 64 years. The bi-state St. Louis MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area

Labor Force Characteristics

The Labor Force is defined as a resident population composed of individuals over 16 years old who are employed or unemployed but looking for work. The St. Louis MSA has seen a five-year decline in the crucial residential labor force population cohorts of 16-24 years and 35-44 years needed to feed employment demands. However, the region did see a recent up-tick in the percent of the labor force between the ages of 25 and 34 years.
St. Louis MSA Labor Force by Age Cohort
St. Louis MSA Labor Force by Age Cohort Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates (2004-2009)

Education Attainment

Over half (51 percent) of the region’s 25 years old and over population holds a high school (or equivalent) diploma but have no postsecondary degree. Of the remaining population, 41 percent have an Associate degree or higher. The remaining eight percent have yet to earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
Educational Attainment of the 25–64 Age Cohort of the St. Louis MSA Population
Educational Attainment of the 25–64 Age Cohort of the St. Louis MSA Population Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

Workforce Characteristics

Over the past fifteen years the St. Louis MSA workforce, those employed in the region regardless of where they live, has shifted in age. The St. Louis Region’s workers are getting older, mirroring the national trend of an aging workforce. In 1995 roughly 70 percent of the workforce was between the ages of 14 and 44 years. By 2009 that same age group made up only 60 percent of the area workforce.
St. Louis MSA Workforce by Age Group
St. Louis MSA Workforce by Age Group Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Local Employment Household Dynamics program–Quarterly Workforce Indicators

Education Projections for the Workforce

National long-term (2008-2018) occupation projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest employment requiring at least an Associate degree will see the largest percent change (19 percent) in future employment.1 Similar projections are calculated for Missouri and regional geographies.
Long-Term Employment Projections by Education Required
Long-Term Employment Projections by Education Required State long-term (2008-2018) projections data for the St. Louis region Workforce Investment Area (WIA), defined as Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, and the City of St. Louis, indicates that occupations requiring an Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree will each grow at a rate of nine percent. Occupations that require a Doctoral degree will see the largest growth (15 percent).

Target Industry Clusters

In January 2011, the State of Missouri identified seven target industry clusters. Definitions for each cluster are in the Appendix of this report. The seven target industry clusters: Advanced Manufacturing, Energy Solutions, Biosciences, Health Care Science/Services, Information Technology, Financial/Professional Services and Transportation/Logistics reflect current industrial growth and strong employment projections. These clusters maximize regional strengths for the competitive advantage of Missouri. The St. Louis Metropolitan area hosts 112,853 firms employing 1,266,519 people. 2 Of these firms, over half (57,212) have a four-digit (NAICS) North American Industry Classification System code that is associated with one of the target industry clusters and employ 42 percent of the total area workforce.
Distribution of St. Louis MSA Firms by Cluster and Firm Size
Distribution of St. Louis MSA Firms by Cluster and Firm Size Identified cluster occupations, filtered from the 2010-2012 short-term occupation projections for Missouri and the St. Louis WIA respectively, demonstrate the growth potential for each of the seven clusters. The St. Louis WIA region is poised to see good employment growth in Biosciences, Financial & Professional Services and Health Care Science/Services. However, the majority of new positions to be filled across all clusters come from replacing current workers rather than creating new jobs.
St. Louis WIA (Missouri Only) 2010–2012 Occupation Growth by Cluster
St. Louis WIA (Missouri Only) 2010–2012 Occupation Growth by Cluster Source: MERIC Short term projections 2010–2012

Employment Trends

The unemployment rate for the St. Louis MSA is trending downwards with a year over year drop for May 2011 of almost one percentage point.
St. Louis MSA Annual Unemployment Trends
St. Louis MSA Annual Unemployment Trends Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey Traditionally, there is an inverse relationship between unemployment rates and job opening rates. During recessionary times unemployment is high and the number of open jobs declines. Conversely, when the economy peaks unemployment is low and job opening rates rise. As seen in the graph below, during the 2001 recession, the difference between the unemployment rate and job openings rate peaked at 3.8 in mid 2003. It fell to 1.1 in late 2007. During the recent recession the rates began to diverge almost immediately to a high of 8.3 in early 2010. The current gap between unemployment and job openings rates stands at 6.8 (April 2011).
Unemployment Rate vs. Job Openings Rate
Unemployment Rate vs. Job Openings Rate Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Real Time Jobs

The table below lists real-time (July 2011) vacancies for the St. Louis region. Current openings are arranged by the type of education or training needed.
Top Two Hiring Occupations for Each Education Level
Top Two Hiring Occupations for Each Education Level Source: EMSI Complete Employment - 1st Quarter 2011 and MERIC
St. Louis MSA Employers and Employer Survey Participants
St. Louis MSA Employers and Employer Survey Participants Source: ESRI Business Analyst. (2010) ReferenceUSAGov, U.S. Businesses Dataset and Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC)