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December 22, 2008

Payroll, benefits for Joplin metro area totaled $3.23 billion in 2007

By Andy Ostmeyer

aostmeyer@joplinglobe.com

Average compensation in the Joplin metropolitan area came to $38,431 in 2007.

That’s up 2.9 percent from the figure for the year before, according to a survey released Monday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It is the smallest increase since average compensation rose 2.8 percent from 2001 to 2002.

Nationwide, average compensation came to $53,892 in 2007, a difference of $15,461 when compared with that of Joplin. Total compensation grew at 4.1 percent nationwide for all counties. About 10 percent of counties did not have growth last year, instead reporting losses.

Average compensation includes wages as well as benefits, and the employer’s contribution for such things as Social Security, said Mauricio Ortiz, an economist with the BEA.

The compensation is based on where employees work and not where they live.

The total value of all compensation in 2007 for the Joplin metro area — defined as Jasper and Newton counties — came to $3.23 billion, according to the BEA, with $2.43 billion of that earned in Jasper County and nearly $800 million earned in Newton County.

Of the $3.23 billion, $2.61 billion was in the form of wage and salary disbursements, with employers paying an additional $427.6 million for pension and insurance benefits, and $189.8 million for government programs such as Social Security.

With compensation totaling nearly $733 million in 2007, manufacturing represented the largest piece of the economic pie, followed by health care, which provided compensation of more than $502.4 million.

Government as an employer was the third largest segment in terms of compensation, at $416.6 million. That segment includes public colleges, according to Ortiz.

Retail trade provided compensation valued at $264.4 million in 2007.

Jim Schwarz, president of Able Manufacturing, with operations in Joplin and Pittsburg, Kan., said that nationwide, manufacturing employs about 14 percent of the work force, but numbers like this indicate its impact is bigger because of what it offers in terms of wages and benefits.

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