Joplin weathered the worst tornado in modern history. Now it appears it is weathering one of the worst economic droughts since the Great Depression.
In a story on today’s front page, we report that Joplin is being recognized for the improvements it has made in reducing unemployment. We now have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Even better, not all of that has come about because of tornado recovery jobs.
Joplin’s unemployment rate in June at 6.1 percent is better than the 6.6 percent reported in May 2011, before the tornado. Now we are seeing jobs being added that have nothing to do with rebuilding. We see companies coming to Joplin and hiring. We see companies making long-term investments in our town. We even see companies that are handing out raises to their employees.
Another key indicator that bodes favorable for Joplin’s recovery and the well-being of your household is the uptick in sales tax money being collected. Sales tax revenues for the city of Joplin are up nearly 10 percent. Much like the area’s job market, tornado recovery is prominent, but it alone may not be responsible for all of that increase. Neighboring cities are seeing increases and promising signs that business is improving.
That’s not to say that local governments shouldn’t continue watching taxpayers’ money closely and being good stewards. We do think, though, that it’s encouraging that some city employees are seeing raises again. It’s a sign that raises are cycling into the paychecks of those who work in the private sector.
As they say, what goes around comes around. In Joplin’s case, these two key indictors bode well for our area.