As you would probably guess I often get asked about the St. Joseph economy. I will answer questions and offer comments that some people find hard to believe – “You don’t mean St. Joseph?” So here are a few facts to consider:
• St. Joseph is the third largest exporter in the State of Missouri with almost $1 billion in exports annually. This is more than twice as much as Springfield, Mo.
• The average annual wage in Buchanan County (based on full-time employment) now stands at $44,439 annually. This is an increase of 5 percent from this time last year. In fact, Buchanan County now has the highest average annual wage of any county outside the St. Louis and Kansas City urban areas except for Ralls County. Yes, higher then Greene County, where Springfield is located.
• Manufacturing has always been important to St. Joseph and with good reason. Buchanan County is one of the leading counties for manufacturing in Missouri. Buchanan County’s Location Quotient (LQ) is over 2.2. Anything over 1.0 represents an employment concentration greater than the national average. The county’s LQ is the highest in Northwest Missouri and in the Kansas City area. In addition, St. Joseph has the third highest manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP) in the State of Missouri.
• The number of people employed in St. Joseph’s metropolitan statistical area continues to grow and hit a new record of 65,099 employed in June of this year.
• The local office of the Missouri Career Center recently reported that there are over 800 open job positions in the St. Joseph area, with 600 of these being in manufacturing. The office only received 128 applications for employment this past month, underscoring the tight labor market and historically low unemployment in St. Joseph.
Yes, I mean St. Joseph!
While these facts offer some insight to the current state of our local economy the reality is, we must continue to focus on attracting new companies and growing new jobs. As we know, and as history has taught us, there will be periods of job loss in the future. But to grow new jobs we must have people to fill those jobs, thus we must also continue to focus on workforce development, to better prepare our future workforce and attract additional talent to St. Joseph. The jobs are here.
And yes, I mean St. Joseph!
R. Patt Lilly