Missouri is pumping out manufacturing jobs like nobody’s business. From cars to windows and food products, a Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry report says Missouri has outperformed the nation in creating manufacturing jobs. About 35,000 have come on board since 2010.
According to the statewide business group, manufacturing employment has grown 5.7% in Missouri since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic recovery varies by location. Joplin and Springfield have seen strong employment growth since 2020, and Kansas City, Jefferson City and Columbia have made a big comeback over the past year. St. Joseph and St. Louis still lag behind.
Ted Abernathy, with Economic Leadership LLC, said Missouri has a lot going for its manufacturing industry.
“For you guys, transportation equipment chemicals, which include biopharmaceuticals and food and beverage, have always been leaders. You are rated as a top 10 lowest cost-of-doing-business state in America, so you have a big advantage there,” he said.
Abernathy said new areas Missouri could expand on are manufacturing in agriculture machinery and products, as well as medical devices.
According to Abernathy, Missouri has high-value and high-skill manufacturing.
“And those are the ones that are growing,” he said. “It’s easy to offshore, low-skill, low-cost manufacturing, but the more complex the manufacturing, whether you’re building cars or biopharmaceuticals or airplanes, those are complicated and demand for them has continued to rise worldwide.”
Abernathy said the state’s refocus on infrastructure has been key.
“You don’t grow manufacturing jobs if you can’t move goods. And so, the focus on manufacturing infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, airports, all of those things has been really important and they’ll have to be sustained because we’re more sophisticated these days in moving infrastructure,” according to Abernathy.
Abernathy said exposing children and adults to opportunities that manufacturing provides is key because he says America’s biggest challenge is attracting young people to fill those jobs.