Unemployment held steady at 6.1 percent in Blue Springs last month, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The jobless rate has been between 5.9 percent and 6.9 percent all year. About 27,000 people have jobs, and about 1,700 are looking.
Independence was at 7.5 percent, toward the middle of its 6.9 percent to 8.5 percent range in 2012. There were almost 54,000 jobs last month but also nearly 4,400 were unemployed.
For all of Jackson County, the jobless rate slipped to 8.2 percent in August.
Candidates and jobs
Amid questions about schools, Medicare, Medicaid, the Second Amendment, and even obesity’s impact on health-care costs, candidates for Missouri governor and the U.S. Senate the other day also were asked about the jobs and the economy.
I was priviledged to be on panels asking questions of Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians on Friday at a Missouri Press Association gathering in Columbia.
Governor Jay Nixon said he’s committed to continued fiscal discipline and no tax increases. He cited the state’s growing exports, and a couple of times he pointed out that he called the General Assembly into special session in 2010 to approve tax credits that led Ford to keep the 5,000 jobs at the Claycomo plant and invest $1.1 billion, mostly for a van soon to go into production there.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Nixon said.
His Republican challenger, St. Louis businessman Dave Spence, would have none of it, dismissing even that day’s news of improved Missouri jobless figures.
“Well, it’s an election year, and I think you can make numbers say what you want them to say,” he said.
Spence said he wants “right to work” legislation (Nixon opposes it), workers compensation changes (Nixon says rates are down) and tort reform. He compared Nixon to both a CEO who should be fired and the captain of the Titanic.
“We’ve lost our optimism in this state,” Spence said. “We really have, in all corners of it.”
Jim Higgins, the Libertarian candidate, had a standard answer for most of these questions – the free market. “Politicians constantly try to improve on that,” he said, “and they fail every time.”
(There were also a couple of transportation questions. See more on my blog, “Point A to Point B,” at www.examiner.net.)
Republican Todd Akin, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, said the best thing for the economy would be repealing Obamacare.
“It’s your choice: more freedom or more Washington,” he said.
I felt it important to get this one one the record: The Simpson-Bowles Commission on the federal deficit made sweeping recommendations for both spending cuts and tax increases. At the risk of turning off radio listeners across the state, I read the Senate candidates chapter and verse: Cut the federal workforce through attrition and freeze pay, cap spending, raise the gas tax, curtail the mortgage interest deduction, raise the Social Security payroll tax and phase in a higher retirement age, and cut entitlements, including farm subsidies. Make taxes lower, broader and fairer. Why, I asked, hasn’t this become at least the beginning of a serious conversation in Washington?
Page 2 of 2 - Akin said those are good ideas, but added, “What happens when a bill goes to the Senate? It dies.”
McCaskill pointed to Tea Party congressman blocking progress in the House but also cited progress on farm subsidies – even though Missouri farmers take a hit. And yes, she said, we should reconsider the mortgage interest deduction, at least for second homes.
Libertarian Johnathan Dine got off one of the best lines of the day: “I promise to keep the Republicans out of your bedroom and the Democrats out of your wallet.”
At least I got the question on the record. We ran out of time before I could get to Washington’s fiscal cliff.
“Awesome. Wonderful,” were the words Pat Turner, executive director of the Truman Heritage chapter of Habitat for Humanity used to described the group’s recent gala at the Adams Point Conference Center in Blue Springs.
She said it looks as if the group reached its goal of raising $40,000.
The chapter recently opened a business, a ReStore just off the Square in Independence. That helps raise money for homebuilding efforts.
Full disclosure: In years past, I was in a church choir that used to throw in with similar groups for a Sunday evening song fest for a gathering of maybe a couple hundred people, during which the hat was passed, raising $1,500 or so. Heck, I’ve even emceed and sung a solo – neither of which ever need to happen again.
Turner said Habitat still does those types of events, but adds, “This (the gala) is our main fundraiser for the year.”