Good news is happening though. The unemployment rate in Franklin County is down 1.2 percent to 7.1 percent in July 2013 compared to one year prior, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to 162 more Franklin County residents working rather than receiving unemployment benefits. While the numbers certainly could be better it would be good to see this trend line continue. The largest employment growth in non-farm categories include leisure and hospitality and professional and business services. Meanwhile reductions in employment were in the government sector. Sequestration is contributing to this decline.
These numbers mirror those occurring at the state and national level. Regionally, the number of employees on non-farm payrolls increased slightly by .2 percent in the Kansas City metropolitan statistical area, which includes Franklin County, and continues to show the transition from farm to urban employment in this area.
A bright spot that traditionally is a predictor of economic vitality is the manufacturing sector. It is up .7 percent year-over-year in Kansas. The numbers are better in neighboring Missouri with 1.2 percent growth in manufacturing. Construction growth is more robust at 7.1 percent in Missouri than the U.S. at 2.8 percent growth and Kansas’ job losses at -1.6 percent. Let’s hope those growth numbers make their way to the Sunflower State soon.
America’s automakers are making profits again and that means more jobs — 900 new workers were on the job at Kansas City’s Ford Assembly plant in Claycomo. Mo., to keep up with demand for Ford F-series pick-ups. That is just the beginning. More jobs are projected there and if Americans regain their love for “Made in America” products and, as surveys show, are willing to pay more for that label, then more retooled manufacturing jobs could be on their way back to the U.S. Similarly, as spotlighted in the Parade story, consumers interested in a sense of community, authenticity and a sense of character are supporting local merchants’ goods and services, too.
Perhaps it is time for Ottawa and Franklin County to create their own micro-labels to spur that same kind of community pride — and subsequently jobs here too. That’s a sensible way to grow labor at home and, as a bonus, create a Labor Day cachet.
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher
editor and publisher