Any parent would be familiar with a child’s complaint that “there’s nothing to do.”
The adult equivalent might be the claim that there are no good jobs. It is an equally dubious complaint, one that’s not supported by the numbers.
St. Joseph had an unemployment rate of 2.7% in July, which is lower than the national jobless figure. St. Joseph’s production-oriented economy has recovered from the pandemic more quickly than the nation as a whole. The metro area unemployment rate — a combination of Buchanan, Andrew, DeKalb and Doniphan counties — hasn’t exceeded 4% for 14 months.
Some say there are no good jobs, but Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Natalie Redmond makes an interesting observation on recent wage data for Missouri counties.
The Missouri Economic Research and Innovation Center published a report that put the average private sector wage for Buchanan County at $52,754. That’s seventh-best in the state, behind Kansas City and St. Louis metro counties but better than the major county in Springfield.
National statistics paint a roughly similar picture, with an average hourly wage of $22.95 (equating to $47,736 a year) in St. Joseph’s four-county metro area, which is less than the national average of $28.01 an hour.
But even here the city’s manufacturing employment base pays dividends. Construction workers in St. Joseph make 5% more than the national average and production workers make 2% less than the U.S. average, which could be considered a statistical dead heat. Warehousing, another big employment sector in St. Joseph, pays 7% less than the national average.
Compare that with management positions that pay 21% less, education positions at 24% less and media at 32% below the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sure, the city still faces plenty of economic challenges, like inflation and access to a skilled workforce, but many of the economic problems are not necessarily things that put St. Joseph workers in a weaker position.
It’s still an employee’s market if you have some work ethic and punctuality, some post-secondary training and you can pass a drug screen. It’s even more so when factoring in how so many workers seem willing to look elsewhere for jobs after the pandemic. This kind of churn tilts the scales in favor of workers as companies seek to fill positions.
More than 40 of those companies will be present Tuesday at a free citywide career fair, scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center.
These companies offer something that’s much better than a government handout. They provide a paycheck, often one that compares favorably with other parts of the state or nation.