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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Missouri setbacks on jobs, wages

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  • More new figures portray Missouri’s economy as treading water at best – with at least one red flag.
    Arvest Bank has just launched a measure of consumer sentiment for Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, as well as the metro part of Kansas, where its 260 banks are located.
    “The Missouri state economy continues to show improvement but at a very slow rate when compared to the rest of the country,” Arvest notes.
    It put Missouri’s consumer sentiment index at 68.6 in June, compared with 82.5 nationally, using the same measures and methodologies. That puts Missouri slightly higher than Arkansas and quite a way behind Oklahoma. David Mitchell, director of the Bureau of Economic Research of Missouri State University, was in town the other day to expand on the numbers, and he said there are a lot of folks in Oklahoma for whom the economy is working just fine right now.
    In Missouri, not so much.
    “So we’re not really seeing a lot of robust growth within Missouri in jobs,” he said. The Kansas City area is doing better than the nation as a whole, but he adds, “The growth in Kansas is driving all of that.”
    Here’s how that looks on payday. “The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that state personal income levels have increased 2.6 percent since the end of the recession,” Arvest reports, “which translates to real personal income growth of 0.52 percent per annum.”
    That echoes an observation the other day from Creighton Economic Forecast Group, which tracks business conditions in Missouri and eight other states.
    Average weekly wages in Missouri are down – down – 0.5 percent in the last year, Creighton finds, adding, “After adjusting for inflation, Missouri workers are losing considerable buying power.” Ouch.
    Back to Arvest, which plans to release its consumer sentiment surveys twice a year:
    • Just more than half of Missouri consumers – 54 percent – say their financial situation is the same as a year ago, and 52 percent expect to be in the same financial place a year from now. One in six says they are better off, and nearly one in five expects things to pick up. Almost one-third say things have eroded in the past year, and 27 percent expect more of that. Again, marginally better than Arkansas and not that close to Oklahoma.
    • Families in Missouri with incomes of $75,000 or more tended to be about as optimistic about things as did Americans overall, registering 79.8 on the consumer sentiment index. But for Missouri households under $75,000, that number drops to 59.2, down into hey-the-recession-never-ended territory.
    • Those with jobs saw things only a little better than those looking for work – 76.6 compared with 71.7 – but education levels showed marked differences: high school or less, 58.2; bachelor’s degree, 72.8; graduate degree, 84.
    Page 2 of 2 - Now back to Creighton, which reports that the Missouri economy is doing OK but essentially treading water. The group, based at Creighton University, released July’s business conditions index last week, and it put Missouri at 59 on the zero-to-100 scale, suggesting growth in the months ahead. The Midwest as a whole got a 57.
    So what’s working? Automakers and those who supply them. And those who make nondurable goods, except food processors, are reporting “solid economic business expansions,” Creighton reports.
    Final couple of bits of data: The state of Missouri reports that general revenues in July were $512.9 million, up 6.5 percent from July 2013. That was driven by a 9.2 percent jump in income tax collections. Sales taxes – at best a rough measure of the retail economy – were down 0.2 percent.
    Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business reporter and editor. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.

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