The Good and Not-So-Good News from Missouri’s Labor Market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its report on state employment (see Table 5) allowing us to see how Missouri’s labor markets have fared.
The good news is that between December 2013 and December 2014, seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment in Missouri increased by 44,700 jobs to a preliminary estimate of 2,795,000 jobs. This amounts to a 1.62 percent increase. Compared with our neighboring states, in terms of percentage increases, in 2014 Missouri did better at creating jobs compared to Kentucky, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska. Missouri’s rate of job growth lagged that in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
Although Missouri did relatively well when comparing percentage growth rates for 2014, the not-so-good news is that the state’s economy has not been generating jobs at a pace that would return employment to levels seen at the onset of the Great Recession.
The table below ranks Missouri and its neighboring states by their ability to create jobs over the past six years. The first column of numbers reports the most recent estimate of nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) in each state in December 2014. The second number column includes the peak number of jobs and the date of the peak. The final column reports the difference between the peak employment number and that for December 2014. Based on this comparison, Missouri has lagged neighboring states in job production over the past six years. The current number of jobs in five states (Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, Iowa, and Oklahoma) is above their previous peak, while Arkansas and Kansas are relatively close to their peak. Missouri shows a substantial lag of 15,700 jobs. The silver lining? It isn’t as bad as Illinois.
Trying to explain the differences in job creation would require more space than we have here. Still, possible candidates are the mix of industries in each state; the migration of companies (and people) to better economic climates; and the states’ taxes and spending policies. Whatever the reasons, the Missouri economy is still looking for the answer.