Economic Development News

Looking Back to Look Ahead
A snapshot of our local economy
Published: Thursday, June 11, 2015 11:00 am
By: Randy Allen, President/CEO

 

 “We believe total wages are the most significant measure of economic health. More wages in a community promotes and stimulates nearly all areas growth. More wages to spend on goods, services which in turn provide additional velocity in the economy.”

I am asked constantly “how are we doing here in JCMO and Cole County?” My answer is usually we are doing pretty good but not great! Our current unemployment rate is 4.6%. This is pretty much full employment. Our basic economic signs are good! Our average wages and sales tax collections continue to improve.  In order to answer this question more fully the Chamber has compiled some economic data on the last 20 years to educate ourselves and our residents on where we have been and where we might go in the future. We looked at some of the major economic indicators used to determine local economic health.

These indicators are Total Wages, Average Wages, Employment, Taxable Sales, and Appraised Value of Real and Personal Property. Other indicators are Home Sales, Building Permits, Regional GDP and Cost of Living.

Generally JCMO and Cole County follow the State and National Trends. Our highs and lows are tempered by the effect of State Government as a stabilizing force.

Economic Indicators

The Chart (Figure 1) shows a beginning year of 2003 as the base line and levels of increase or decrease year by year until 2013, the latest year that all the info is available. The Chart shows that from 2003 to 2007 all of the categories were positive. Then in late 2007 the recession began, brought on by the financial crisis. Taxable sales declined rapidly until 2009 and then began a slow and steady increase until it is now just above the previous high. Wages decreased for a period and then returned to positive movement upward. In 2007 the employment total began to decline and continued to do so through 2013. There are about 5% fewer jobs in the County now than in 2003. Appraised Value and Average Wages saw no negative effects during this period and continued rising through 2013. Population grew at .6% per year over the 10 year period.

20-Year Look at Sectors

The previous chart shows total wages on the increase. Figure 2 indicates the distributions as a % of County Wages by Major Sectors in 1993, 2003 and 2013. As can be seen in the chart, State Government had a steady decline from 2003 to 2013 losing about 5.5% primarily due to the loss of 3,000 jobs.

Trade, Transportation and Utilities has continued to decrease its % from 15.4% to 12.75%. Education and Health Services increased 2.2% primarily due to the Health Care industry. Professional and Business Services added nearly 5%. Manufacturing and Construction gained ground in 2003 but returned to 1995 levels in 2013. Information and Other Services, although a small portion of the economy, continued to increase over the 20 year period. 

State & County Comparisons

Figure 3 shows the 2013 county levels as compared to the state as a whole. This shows the substantial effect State government carries in Cole County and although in decline still exceeds the State Average by 30% points. The only other two sectors where the county exceeds the State Average are construction and other services. Other services included non-profits, State Association and religious institutions. The other sectors are still behind the State average. 

Looking ahead we hope that the decline of State Jobs is leveling off and future wage increases will improve the spending power of State employees. Efforts to assist the growth of existing Manufacturing, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services and Information sectors will be continued.

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