Missouri Continues to See Low Unemployment and Healthy Job Growth
Missouri received good news this week as the state’s unemployment rate hit its lowest point in nearly two decades. Data released by the Missouri Department of Economic Development showed the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent in July. This rate is the lowest the state has seen since June 2000.

Representative Rebecca Roeber

The July unemployment rate is down from 3.5 percent in June and is also lower than the 3.6 percent unemployment rate for June 2017. The state’s unemployment rate has decreased from the 3.7 percent level at the beginning of the year. Missouri’s rate has now been lower than the comparable U.S. rate, which is currently 3.9 percent, for 39 consecutive months.

Overall, the state’s employment levels have been on an upward trend. Missouri saw an increase of 8,800 jobs between May and July. The state has also seen an increase of 34,700 jobs since July 2017. Health care and social assistance employment saw an increase of 10,900 jobs. Durable goods manufacturing added 5,600 jobs. Arts, entertainment and recreation; retail trade; and administrative, support, and waste management services each added between 3,500 and 4,000 jobs over the year.

Encouraging Agriculture Investment with the Missouri FIRST Initiative
As the Missouri State Fair promotes excellence in Missouri agriculture and raises awareness of the importance of the agriculture industry, the state continues to work to increase agriculture investments. The Missouri State Treasurer was on hand at the fair to talk about the Missouri FIRST initiative and the role it has played in increasing investment in agriculture through the state’s linked deposit program.

The Missouri FIRST (Financing Investment in our Rural, Small Business and Technology communities) initiative revamped the state’s linked deposit program, which partners with local lenders to provide low-interest financing to small businesses and agricultural operations. The program helps farmers by making production, land acquisition, livestock costs and other ventures more affordable. Missouri FIRST was launched in March, and has seen the total volume of active agriculture linked deposits rise from $29.3 million to $69.3 million since its inception.

“The Missouri FIRST initiative has enabled us to better prioritize rural economic development and the agriculture industry. Economic growth, less red tape and increased accessibility have led to a stronger linked deposit program with greater investment in Main Street and rural Missouri,” said State Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

The Missouri State Treasurer’s Office works with local lending institutions to facilitate Missouri FIRST loans. There are approximately 115 qualified Missouri FIRST linked deposit lenders with 350 branches throughout the state. A list of lenders and program eligibility guidelines can be found online at MOFIRST.mo.gov.

I want to make sure that you know that my door is always open to you if you have any questions, concerns or comments. You are always welcome to visit, call or email me. My office telephone number is 573-751-1456 or you can email me at Rebecca.Roeber@house.mo.gov. My office address is MO House of Representatives 201 West Capitol Avenue Room 201 CA. To sign up for my capitol report please email me.