Unemployment stayed steady in September, making it difficult to read the direction of the state economy.

Missouri’s unemployment rate last month was 9.3%, the same as in August. Employment actually grew by nearly 2,100 jobs, but that’s not enough to budge the rate, especially since the seasonally-adjusted numbers indicate a decrease in employment from August of 12,300 jobs. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.6%.

State Economic Development Department spokesman John Fougere says it traditionally is difficult to make judgments based on September numbers.

“I think what you saw was, again, if you take a look at the fact that the not-seasonally adjusted employment went up by over 20,000, but the seasonally adjusted had the large decrease, I think the combination gets us an unemployment rate that remains the same,” Fougere says.

The big difference between seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted numbers has more to do with the start of school than anything. Teachers normally get paid year-round, but when school starts janitors, cooks and the like go back to work.

St. Louis took a hit last month, losing 7,500 jobs. Kansas City lost 1,800 jobs while Springfield gained 1,400 jobs. The Economic Development Department reports that biggest jobs losses occurred in the area of construction, manufacturing, retail trade, professional, scientific and technical services, as well as accommodation and food.

Fougere says Missouri has seen some good economic announcements, but they’ve been spotty.

“So, certainly around the state there has been some good news with job announcements. We have seen a state that is doing a little bit better than other states in the United States right now, but certainly we’re looking for the economy to move ahead,” Fougere says. “And we’ll be watching closely for those trends as the months go by.”

He says we might be a better read on the direction of the state economy with the October figures.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:10 MP3]