Unemployment rates throughout Southeast Missouri went down significantly in July and August, the most recent months for which county-by-county jobless data is available through the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The declining unemployment rates are an indication of Missouri’s continuing recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, that forced thousands of temporary or permanent business closures resulting in widespread joblessness throughout the state. The most recent data that was released revealed that Cape Girardeau County’s unemployment rate went down by a full percentage point from June to July, falling from 4.2percent to 3.2 percent, and fell to 2.9percent in August, matching the county’s 2.9 percent rate recorded in November 2019. The number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits filed in Cape Girardeau County also decreased in August to 184, the first time the number of monthly claims has been below 200 since February 2020, the month before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in March 2020 through July of last year, 11,044 initial benefits claims were filed in Cape Girardeau County, an average of 2,208 a month during that five-month period. Unemployment rates in the three Missouri counties bordering Cape Girardeau County — Bollinger, Perry and Scott — also fell in July and August compared to June’s unemployment rates.