Missouri’s unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, its lowest rate since August 2007. The Department of Economic Development, released a jobs report Wednesday that detailed the 0.3 percent unemployment drop over the last month.
The department's Director of Marketing and Communications Amy Susan said the state started looking at new job growth initiatives when Governor Jay Nixon began his first term in office. These initiatives targeted industries that were poised for growth. One of the fields they identified was the auto industry.
“Billions of dollars are getting poured into it [the auto industry] and rather than Ford and GM going to other states, they’re coming right here to invest in the Show-Me State,” Susan said.
Fields that saw the largest job increases included manufacturing and arts/entertainment. In manufacturing, jobs have grown in part because of increased access to training for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. Harold Zinn of Missouri Enterprise, a non-profit company that helps manufacturing companies grow, has seen that success firsthand.
“We’ve helped them [a Kansas City-based electrical company] develop a whole set of new processes that they’re able to make their products cheaper than ever before," Zinn said. "Their workforce is probably one and a half times what it was five years ago."
One of the other major areas of job growth was in arts and entertainment. Michael Donovan, the Executive Director of the Missouri Arts Council, said a good arts economy usually indicates a good economy overall.
“They [arts jobs] tend to increase the health of the economy in general and stimulate additional economic activity throughout the sector," Donovan said. "This is due to the arts’ unique ability to attract business to support other businesses."
While the jobs report for September 2015 is encouraging, Susan said focusing on the long-term job growth of the state is more important. She said they’ve already had a good first couple weeks of October in terms of job creation and hope to build on that over the rest of the month.