Productive Workforce

Missouri’s workers consistently rank as among the most productive in a  number of industries, driving bottom-line successes for employers in the state.

In general, many Missouri communities have a national advantage in terms of labor, especially for industries such as health, educational and social services industries.

With approximately 2.9 million residents, the St. Louis region is among the largest population concentrations in the Midwest, with a work force to match. Kansas City, as well, with more than 2.2 million residents across its bi-state reach, forms an Interstate 70 bookend to St. Louis and provides an economic counterweight.

In each case, and given the growth in health-care services each community has experienced in recent years, it is not surprising that their work forces are relatively well-educated. While some communities around St. Louis, for example, list more than 94 percent of their adult population with a high school diploma, even larger, more rural areas such as Warren County have roughly 85 percent of their adults with a high-school degree.

As virtual work has become the norm for many companies across the region and beyond, the state of Missouri has been at work expanding its work-force development and business-service programs. These include direct financial services for efforts such as the Missouri Customized Training Program. Other areas include Community College New Jobs Training program and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Additionally, state use of the federal bonding program and other financial incentives is extensive.

Although new programs are being developed almost every year, one of the most frequent observations by officials in the state’s Department of Economic Development and related agencies is that too few businesses exploit these existing programs. The department has launched a business Web site, www.business.mo.gov, with information on business registration and resources in Missouri. Another resource is Jobs.mo.gov, a networking site for businesses and job seekers.

The state’s training programs have expanded significantly and existing programs have been retooled to better serve and communicate their potential advantages to businesses. The customized training program provides assistance to eligible Missouri businesses to lower training costs in order to help create and maintain jobs.

Missouri also offers several work-force development programs, including more than 30 career centers in 14 work-force investment regions. These centers facilitate the work-force development system, providing employers an opportunity to receive tax credits for the hiring of individuals from targeted groups.

Employers also have the opportunity for assistance with training programs, aimed at new job creation. One of the most dramatic is the Missouri Rapid Response Team. This effort aids businesses and employees faced with closings or layoffs.

Many areas of Missouri also benefit from strong educational programs tailored to work-force development. In the major metropolitan areas, outstanding community colleges offer traditional career education and training programs tailored to specific businesses. Vocational schools in metropolitan and rural areas are another important option and often offer programs tailored to the needs of their communities.

Other aspects of Missouri’s demographics are more difficult to quantify. Most Missourians share a strong sense of community, generally placing a high value on issues such as education and a strong work ethic, traits that have a positive impact on the area’s work force.

These factors are especially visible in what the state has recently identified as “economic hotspots,” areas such as Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Hannibal, Jefferson City, Joplin, Maryville, Moberly, Popular Bluff, St. Joseph, Sikeston, Springfield and West Plains. Although these active business locales are developing for a wide range of logistical and economic reasons, regional work-force features are a significant driver.