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In St. Louis, Unemployment Hits All Sectors

As part of a series of reports from St. Louis on President Obama's first 100 days, Gwen Ifill examines the unemployment picture in St. Louis and talks to local residents about their thoughts on the economy.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    How has the recession transformed the jobs picture here in St. Louis and in the Midwest generally? We get an assessment from William Emmons, assistant vice president and economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

    Tony Thompson, president and CEO of the Kwame Building Group, a construction management company.

    Michael Holmes, executive director of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment.

    And Ellen Sherberg, publisher of the St. Louis Business Journal.

    Thank you all for joining us here.

    William Emmons, just when it comes to jobs, how are things looking in St. Louis?

    WILLIAM EMMONS, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: The national economy was slow growth through most of this decade. St. Louis and the Midwest was even slower. In fact, we've had very little job growth over the last few years. The recession has just caused us to start losing jobs now.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And what has been the — you say the recession, but certainly there are elements of the recession which drove particularly the job loss.

  • WILLIAM EMMONS:

    Right. We've been hit hard by manufacturing, all sorts of service industries. It's really across the board with very few exceptions.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Tony, you work in construction. You run your own company. Tell us a little bit about how it's trickled down, particularly to your business.

  • TONY THOMPSON, Kwame Building Group:

    Well, it's interesting. In my business, because we're in construction management arena, it's all — because mostly the construction companies are starting to lay off people because of the lack of funds drying up, loans. A lot of projects have been put on hold or delayed.

    But from a management standpoint, we're involved with the planning stages of a lot of projects, and we really haven't seen the type of slowdown in our industry.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    So does the stimulus package that's being talked about in Washington, does it trickle down to you at all?

  • TONY THOMPSON:

    Yes, it does. Transportation is a big — an important area in our business, airports, wastewater treatment facilities. And there seems to be quite a bit of activity taking place around transportation and airports. And actually we're seeing some growth in our industry.

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