McGuire Sponsel Blog

Missouri Jobs Report – How Missouri Competes for Business

According to new Missouri Civilian Labor Force Data, the unemployment rate in the Show Me state, now sits at 3.9 percent [1]. This represents an improvement of 17,057 employees over March of 2016. Former Missouri Governor Nixon has been credited for fostering a competitive climate for business through balancing the budget, holding the line on taxes and making targeted investments. Now with a new Governor, Missouri is looking to build on these robust job creation numbers. So what is the Missouri “targeted investment” plan for 2017 under Governor Eric Greitens? How do these investments support business growth? Click below to find out more.

Missouri personal income and GDP have risen. The unemployment rate, which spiked to nearly 10 percent in 2009, now rests at 3.9 percent. One business leader that recently invested in Missouri claimed, “The state’s highly educated workforce, favorable business climate…give us confidence that Missouri is the right location”- BlueStrata CEO Tony Coco. Moreover, Missouri net job gains have lead all eight of its neighboring states. So, how is Missouri excelling? And, what does a closer look at the data tell us?

Job Creation in the Heartland

In 2015, Popular Mechanics ranked St. Louis the #1 startup city, and Business Insider named both St. Louis and Kansas City in the top 10 cities with the fastest growing startup scenes. Additionally, WalletHub ranked St. Louis #5, Springfield #8 and Kansas City #16 among its 2016 best large cities to start a business, counting several vital metrics including: access to resources, affordability and overall business environment.

This narrative paints a rosy outlook, and with Governor Greitens in his first year, a desire to invest in jobs is currently a very popular Show Me state story. With Governor Greitens just passing his 100-day mark, his ambitions are more clear.  Most notable, was the passage of the right-to-work law, and tort reform measures, each of which signal a change in Jefferson City politics and the Governor’s attempt to expand his objective to create more jobs and spur growth in the state’s economy. So far, the new Governor has delivered.

The March Jobs Report did show an improvement, 3.9 percent unemployment, from the annual number, 4 percent, given by the December 2016 report. However, that same December report showed the November 2016 unemployment number at 3.7 percent. Notwithstanding, looking at the year-over-year information from December 2016 [2], the data does show a lot of success. For example:

  • St. Louis Total Unemployment Improved by 5.1 percent, or 3,264 workers
  • Missouri Warehousing & Storage Jobs Grew by 4.8 percent, and
  • Missouri Financial & Insurance Jobs Grew by 5.2 percent [3]

Bearish Signal

While these have been viewed as positive signs, not all the data are showing growth. Even in a hot market, such as St. Louis, manufacturing jobs declined by 1.2 percent. However, Kansas City did experience an uptick in manufacturing jobs by adding 1,000 new positions, or a 2.3 percent increase. Nevertheless, Kansas City did see mining, logging & construction employment fall by 7 percent.

Bullish Signal

An overall silver lining is seen in wage growth. The state’s financial activity sector saw wages grow by just over 8.11 percent, to an average weekly earnings of $1,026.95. Furthermore, even the manufacturing sector saw wage increases. The data revealed a rather robust manufacturing sector wage growth of 10.8 percent, or an average weekly earnings of $1,116.75.

The Missouri Works Program

Tied to all this activity, is an economic development tool utilized by the DED to support business growth within the state. This program can often make the difference in a site location decision. Given McGuire Sponsel has walked clients through the Missouri Works Program (or “Mo Works”), we can say this economic tool can be seen as a reason why Missouri has outpaced its neighbors in the job creation category.

Never to be overlooked, Mo Works is both simple and powerful – providing a statutory “withholding” benefit and discretionary tax credits which can be negotiated. When the DED knows it is competing for a project, they will value the project, assess the competition and utilize discretionary benefits when needed to help secure the project.

Even so, it is the business’ burden to effectively communicate your comparative analysis process, discuss any challenges that may exist with expansion in Missouri, and work with the DED as you work with other sites, municipalities and states. With several categories to choose from, Mo Works has distinct challenges related to finding how to best fit your development project to each category. These will align with project attributes and provide different tools, timeframes and guidelines for benefits.

Each of the categories has its own unique requirements. But for the purpose of this article, we will deal with the Statewide Works program which requires:

  1. A minimum of 10 new jobs by the end of the second year of the project,
  2. Wages at 90 percent of the county average, and
  3. At least 50 percent of health insurance offered and paid for by the company

How Missouri wants to influence your site location decision

While the March Jobs Report has plenty to feel rosy about, pockets of weakness can still creep up to cause stagnation, if not addressed. McGuire Sponsel believes the Show Me state’s best tool to flag and fight these bearish data signals is to utilize Mo Works, and we are confident Governor Greitens already has identified this as a 2017 priority. Therefore, if you are considering investment in Missouri, you need to know the ins and outs of the Mo Works Program.

At McGuire Sponsel, we believe that rapidly growing companies, especially multi-state companies, need to have a strategic location plan. Our planning services focus on comprehensive comparative analysis, multi-state incentive program education, collaborative planning and ongoing location evaluation. If your company is investing and adding jobs, incentives like Mo Works could bring you hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more in benefit. To schedule your incentive planning session, call McGuire Sponsel at 317-564-5000 or email ddalton@mcguiresponsel.com and sbrunson@mcguiresponsel.com.

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[1] https://www.missourieconomy.org/pdfs/industry_mar17.pdf

[2] https://www.missourieconomy.org/pdfs/industry_dec16.pdf

[3] More specifically, Kansas City Financial Activities grew by 6 percent

Stephen Brunson

Stephen Brunson

As a Principal at McGuire Sponsel, Steve Brunson helps growing businesses across the country through location decisions while negotiating valuable economic incentives. He works closely with advisors to coordinate strategies that bring the greatest benefit to each client he serves. View Steve's bio.

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